Here's what's included in the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package

Congress COVID Relief Bill
Posted at 12:47 PM, Dec 21, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressional leaders in both chambers have agreed on a COVID-19 relief package that would provide nearly $900 billion in aid.

The Senate and House are expected to vote on and approve the bill Monday, sending it to President Donald Trump’s desk for approval.

A majority of the aid will be repurposed from money that was already set aside for the CARES Act, the relief bill passed in March. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the repurposed funds amount to over $560 billion.

The long-awaited aid comes at a time when many Americans are struggling to make ends meet and U.S. hospitals are combating the ongoing surge in coronavirus cases.

The deal covers a large swath of issues related to the pandemic and it also includes a $1.4 trillion government-wide funding plan that would keep the government open through September.

Below is a breakdown on what’s included in the bill, based on reporting and statements from congressional leadership.

Another round of stimulus checks

The massive bill includes another round of direct payments for qualifying Americans. But unlike the CARES Act, which provided $1,200 to many, this bill will provide most adults with $600. Families will also receive another $600 per child.

As was the case in the last round of stimulus checks, the size of the direct payments will decrease for those who earned more than $75,000 in the 2019 tax year and those who made $99,000 or more won’t receive money.

Enhanced unemployment insurance benefits

The bill will stop the sudden expiration of unemployment insurance benefits for millions and add a $300 per week enhancement for Americans who are out of work.

Support for businesses

The agreement includes more than $294 billion for first and second forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, expanded PPP eligibility for nonprofits and local media, and PPP modifications to better serve small businesses, nonprofits and independent restaurants.

About $15 billion is dedicated to funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions.

Around $20 billion is also included for targeted grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program, which leaders say are critical for many small businesses to stay open.

The agreement also provides a tax credit to support employers offering paid sick leave.

Education and child care

The agreement provides $82 billion in funding for colleges and schools, as well as $10 billion for child care assistance to help get parents back to work and keep child care providers open.

Rental assistance

About $25 billion was secured for rental assistance for families who are struggling to stay in their homes.

The agreement also extends the eviction moratorium until Jan. 31. It was set to expire at the end of the year. The Washington Post reports that President-elect Biden could extend the deadline further once he's in office.

Vaccine distribution

Now that two different COVID-19 vaccines have been issued emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Congress is allocating funds to distribute doses. The Post and CNBC report the bill would provide $8 billion for distribution efforts and $20 billion to assist states with coronavirus testing.

A total of $4 billion was also secured for GAVI, the international vaccine alliance.

“The package provides billions in urgently need funds to accelerate the free and equitable distribution of safe vaccines to as many Americans as possible as soon as possible, to implement a strong national testing and tracing strategy with billions reserved specifically for combating the disparities facing communities of color, and to support our heroic health care workers and providers,” said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a joint statement.

Nutrition assistance

About $13 billion was secured for SNAP and child nutrition benefits to help relieve the ongoing hunger crisis that leadership says has left up to 17 million children food insecure.

Transportation aid

The bill will reportedly provide $45 billion for the nation’s transportation industry, with at least $15 billion for airline payroll assistance, $14 billion for transit systems and $10 billion for highways.