Three days away. Friday, Dec. 18, is the day congress votes on two stimulus packages totaling $908 billion. Friday is also the deadline for funding an extension to avoid a federal government shutdown. Congress is now down to the wire to make something happen for Americans still struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Breaking Down the Bills
The first bill is a $748 billion stimulus package that includes an additional unemployment benefit of $300 per week for 16 weeks, assistance to food banks, rent relief, leniency on student loans, and an extension of the (PPP) Payroll Protection Program. Funding would continue through Apr. 30. As stated, this bill appears to have support from both parties.
The second bill is a $160 billion package covering liability protections for employers and aid to state and local governments. Each state would receive a minimum of $500 million. Comparing this bill to the first, this “skinny bill” seems to have less support.
Refusing to Wait
Notably, both bills exclude a second $1,200 stimulus check. However, that is not deterring some states and cities from taking matters into their own hands. On Monday, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a $1,200 stimulus check. This one-time direct payment will go to roughly 20,000 D.C. residents eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. But other states have also taken action to provide emergency relief to their residents.
On Nov. 25, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced three financial assistance programs amounting to $37 million. The programs; aimed at small businesses in low-to-moderate income (LMI) neighborhoods are the NYC LMI Storefront Loan, the Interest Rate Reduction Grant, and Strategic Impact COVID-19 Commercial District Support Grant. Jonnel Dorris, NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner, worked with de Blasio on the programs intended to help NYC businesses rebuild. Other cities replicating these kinds of efforts include California, New Mexico, Colorado, Maryland, and Alaska.