The $900 billion stimulus package aimed at bolstering the US economy during the coronavirus pandemic was signed into law by President Donald Trump on Sunday, freeing up the funds after a week of doubts.
Here are the main points:
The poorest households will receive a check of $600 per adult and per child, subject to income (up to $75,000 annually per person, or $150,000 for a married couple), up to a total amount of $166 billion.
Unemployment benefits will be extended until March 14 (with four additional weeks for those who have not exhausted their allowance), and they will again be extended to workers who would not usually be eligible to claim them, including drivers and delivery workers in the "gig economy."
These measures were first adopted at the end of March. Normally unemployment benefits are paid out by states, for up to six months among the most generous states -- meaning that those measures ended on December 26, and more than 12 million Americans were left without income overnight.
Another measure which had expired at the end of July has also been restored: the payment of an additional $300 per week for all unemployed people. This is, however, half of what was granted from April to July.
Finally, rental evictions have been suspended until the end of January 2021, and a package of $25 billion has been earmarked for bank loans to local communities so that they can help tenants to make rent.
Children and education
While learning is still virtual for at least part of the week for most US students, $82 billion has been allocated to helping public and private schools equip themselves to eventually welcome back students while ensuring the safety of both students and teachers.
A budget of just over $10 billion dollars is also planned for nurseries and other establishments that cater to the youngest kids. It will also finance an aid program, including food, for children from families on the lowest incomes.
The text provides just over $55 billion for testing and tracing of the virus, accelerating the vaccination program and continuing research through several programs.
A total of $325 billion will be dedicated to small and medium-sized businesses. The flagship measure of the first recovery plan in the spring, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been renewed for companies with no more than 300 employees and whose turnover fell by at least 25 percent over a quarter in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
In the first version, that debt could be written off if the money was used to pay wages. In the second version, possible uses of the payments have been extended to cover invoices but also the damage suffered during demonstrations against police violence and racial and economic inequalities over the summer.
Aid amounting to $16 billion dollars is expected to save thousands of airline jobs and those among the industry's subcontractors. And $2 billion will go toward helping airports.
A $10 billion tranche will go toward allowing states and local authorities to maintain their highways despite the drop in revenue caused by Covid-19.
And $15 billion will be allocated to rail transport and bus and metro networks, which have seen their income plummet since March as commuters shunned public transport.
Independent cinemas, theaters, concert halls, and cultural institutions, all of which were hit particularly hard by the pandemic, will benefit from $15 billion in aid.
And $10 billion will go to support the US Postal Service, the USPS, whose financial difficulties were longstanding but were worsened by the pandemic and the election campaign.
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