For the first time since the CARES Act was passed on March 27, 2020, American citizens are set to receive federal stimulus funding to aid those struggling through the pandemic.
"We are now on track to pass a $900 billion COVID relief package in the next day," said U.S. Senator Chris Coons during an interview on MSNBC. "We should have had this done months and months ago. Right now, the very final text is being resolved...I'm committed--many of us are committed--to not leave until we get this deal done."
Coons said the first stimulus package on the horizon in nearly nine months time arrives at time time where Coons said he's regularly hearing from constituents about how difficult it has become to maintain even basic levels needs.
"Every signal is that we have finally addressed every last issue, and we should finally be delivering this relief," Coons said. "I continue to hear, day and night, from Delawareans anxious to know whether there's going to be relief for those facing eviction; relief for those relying on the food bank; relief for those who are unemployed; support and help for small businesses. This bill will do that--but it's not everything we need to do. We will need to come back and do another relief bill early next year."
While this bill will distribute $900 billion in aid, with $286 billion going directly to Coons said he knows congress took far too long to provide aid to the citizens of the country, and hopefully even more aid can be distributed early next year, when President Joe Biden takes office.
"Hundreds of billions of dollars will get distributed. The stimulus checks, as of now, will go to folks making below $75,000 individually, or $150,000 as a family, $600 to everyone eligible, so that includes children and adult dependents," the senator said. "So a family of four who are working folks could see up to $2,400. And if you've already received a check in the previous stimulus package, the CARES Act, months ago, you will get this one fairly quickly because it will go electronically...You get this relief faster if you have filed taxes in the last year or two, because then the IRS has the ability to send it to you electronically."
The bill passed will also provide workers receiving unemployment insurance an additional $300 per week through March 14, 2021, while also extending the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program for self-employed and gig workers, and those who have exhausted their regular state benefits. The maximum number of weeks an individual can claim benefits was extended to 50 weeks.
Additionally, "the agreement includes over $284 billion for first and second forgivable PPP loans, expanded PPP eligibility for nonprofits and local newspapers, TV and radio broadcasters, key modifications to PPP to serve the smallest businesses and struggling non-profits and better assist independent restaurants, and includes $15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions. The agreement also includes $20 billion for targeted EIDL Grants which are critical to many smaller businesses," according to a joint statement from Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Rental assistance will also be granted in $25 billion worth of aid.
"State and local governments will certainly need additional funding to prevent the senseless layoffs of heroic essential workers and critical service cuts," the statement said. "The agreement provides some important new targeted funds for state and local government functions that will help alleviate their overall budget burdens. These targeted funds include the emergency resources for schools, $27 billion for state highways, struggling transit agencies, Amtrak and airports, $22 billion for the health-related expenses of state, local, tribal and territorial government, and an additional year of eligibility for expenses under the CARES Coronavirus Relief Fund."
The country's population would've seen more help more quickly if lame duck current President Donald Trump had kept away from negotiations, Coons said.
"I keep asking myself every day...'What is President Trump doing today?' Is he helping by being a good role model, getting vaccinated, wearing a mask? No. Is he helping respond to this broad scale attack by Russia on all of our major government and military online databases and resources? No," Coons said. "Is he helping with delivering this pandemic relief package? No. He's, frankly, tweeting conspiracy theories that are baseless about an election he lost six weeks ago...I've always thought that President Trump was mostly a pretend president. Now he's not even pretending."