President-elect Biden released his COVID response and relief plan last night, a $1.9 trillion package to meet immediate needs that will be followed by a more expansive infrastructure and recovery bill. We do not have all of the details yet, but following are the key items that we understand will be included.
Consideration of this package should take place soon after his Jan 20 swearing in. NOTE: This is a proposed framework, not legislative language, so there will be some unanswered questions until a form of this hits the floor and we can drill down further.
Direct Payments to Individuals
- Sends another $1,400 per person to eligible recipients. This money would be in addition to the $600 payments that were approved by Congress in December — for a total of $2,000
- Would also include households with mixed immigration status, after the first round of $1,200 checks left out the spouses of undocumented immigrants who do not have Social Security Numbers
Aid for States, Locals, Transit & Schools
- Provides $350 billion to state, local and territorial governments (note that we have not yet seen a distribution formula)
- Send $20 billion to the hardest-hit public transit agencies.
- Provides an additional $170 billion to K-12 schools, colleges and universities to help them reopen and operate safely or to facilitate remote learning
- Increase the federal boost the jobless receive to $400 a week, from the $300 weekly enhancement contained in Congress' relief package from December, and extend the payments through September (earlier package only extended through March)
- Applies to those in the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program who have exhausted their regular state jobless payments and in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides benefits to the self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers and certain people affected by the pandemic.
Rental Assistance & Eviction Moratorium
- Provide $25 billion in rental assistance for low- and moderate-income households who have lost jobs during the pandemic. That's in addition to the $25 billion lawmakers provided in December.
- Another $5 billion would be set aside to help struggling renters to pay their utility bills.
- Provides $5 billion to help states and localities assist those at risk of experiencing homelessness.
- Would extend the federal eviction moratorium, set to expire at the end of January, to September 30, as well as allow people with federally-guaranteed mortgages to apply for forbearance until September 30.
- Extends the 15% increase in food stamp benefits through September, instead of having it expire in June.
- Invests another $3 billion to help women, infants and children secure food, and give US territories $1 billion in nutrition assistance
Child Care and Child Tax Credits
- Creates a $25 billion emergency fund and add $15 billion to an existing grant program to help child care providers, including family child care homes, to pay for rent, utilities, and payroll
- Expands the child care tax credit for one year so that families will get back as much as half of their spending on child care for children under age 13
Temporary Increase to Tax Credits
- Boosts the Child Tax Credit to $3,600 for children under age 6 and $3,000 for those between ages 6 and 17 for a year and make it fully refundable
- Raises the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit for a year to close to $1,500 for childless adults, increase the income limit for the credit to about $21,000 and expand the age range of eligibility to cover older workers
Restoration of Emergency Paid Leave
- Would reinstate the paid sick and family leave benefits that expired at the end of December until September 30 and extends the benefit to workers employed at businesses with more than 500 employees and less than 50, as well as federal workers who were excluded from the original program
- People who are sick or quarantining, or caring for a child whose school is closed, will receive 14 weeks of paid leave and the government will reimburse employers with fewer than 500 workers for the full cost of providing the leave
More Assistance for Small Businesses
- Provides $15 billion to create a new grant program for small business owners, separate from the existing Paycheck Protection Program
- Makes a $35 billion investment in some state, local, tribal, and non-profit financing programs that make low-interest loans and provide venture capital to entrepreneurs
Vaccination & Testing
- Invests $20 billion in a national vaccination program, including launching community vaccination centers around the country and mobile units in hard-to-reach areas.
- Invests $50 billion in testing, providing funds to purchase rapid tests, expand lab capacity and help schools implement regular testing to support reopening
- Hires 100,000 public health workers, nearly tripling the community health workforce
Becker's Federal Lobbying Team will continue to monitor these developments as they evolve and will share with you as soon as information becomes available.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.