Unemployment: Congress Appears Close On Stimulus, Including $300 Boost To Benefits And Another Lump Sum Check

The US Congress is working through the weekend in hopes of bridging the final gaps that will permit passage of another round of economic stimulus.

But to what degree Uncle Sam plays Santa Claus for millions of desperate people is still to be determined.

A two-day stopgap spending bill was passed on Friday night to avert a partial government shutdown. But there are still points of contention in the economic stimulus, even as deadlines for unemployment and eviction mortatoriums loom by the end of this month.

The House of Representatives voted 320 to 60 Friday to extend funding for federal agencies through Sunday, while the Senate passed the measure minutes later by voice vote. President Trump signed the measure. If there was no consensus, a partial government shutdown would have gone into effect, albeit a low-impact event.

Now the attention has turned to the stimulus. Will there be another round of checks sent to taxpayers, and if so, in what amount? Will the Paycheck Protection Program be revived?  How about extended federal benefits, and will they be retroactive?

Many fear that whatever amounts are brokered will be too little, too late. The machine to get money to eligible individuals is clunky, as witnessed by prior efforts. Even if the stimulus passes by Sunday, it will be weeks before relief arrives.

Congress has been battling over points in the stimulus plan for months. At times, a resolution appeared close, only to break down over partisan issues.

Right now, reports indicate businesses would be eligible for $300 billion in aid, while individuals will get a $300-per-week bonus federal jobless benefit and renewal of soon-to-expire state benefits. Additionally, there would be $600 direct payments to individuals. Financial status of recipients would be considered in the determination of how much would be sent.

Also under consideration is money for vaccine distribution, money for renters, schools, the Postal Service and people needing food aid.

The total package is expected to approach a trillion dollars, down from prior demands for $2.2 trillion by the Democrats and $1.8 trillion by Republicans.

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