Stimulus Package Status Update

Compromises on Both Sides of the Aisle

After months of back and forth surrounding a second COVID-19 relief bill, lawmakers seem to be zeroing in on an agreement. Meanwhile, coronavirus hospitalizations are hitting all-time highs and vaccine distribution is beginning around the country.

Democrats are settling for less than the $2.4 trillion bill they passed in the House, and Republicans are agreeing to spending more than the $500 billion they initially proposed. Along with the stimulus deal, lawmakers must agree on a full-year spending bill to keep the government running before the current bill expires at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow.

Stimulus Details to Come

The granular-level details of the stimulus deal are still being ironed out as of the time of this publication, but the package is likely to include another round of checks sent directly to American households. It will also likely include enhanced unemployment insurance of $300 per week, vaccine distribution funding, rental assistance, and funding for schools, small businesses, and healthcare providers.

The second round of direct checks to American households will likely be smaller than the first. Earlier this year, eligible individuals received up to $1,200 and $500 per dependent. Representatives said this round of direct checks would likely be closer to $600 or $700 per individual.

Why Households Need Relief

In November the United States poverty rate hit 11.7%—up 2.4% from June. In the past five months, 7.8 million Americans have fallen below the poverty line. Poverty levels have been higher at other points in American history, but this number marks the single largest jump in a single year since the US government started tracking poverty rates in the 1960s.

Economists say two factors are to blame for the sudden increase in poverty. First, millions of Americans are unable to find steady work. Second, government aid has fallen sharply for the unemployed. Jobless claims hit 885,000 in the week ending December 12—the highest they have been since early September.

Many households are struggling financially. Both sides of the aisle agree that Americans need some form of relief from the government.

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