Stimulus payments from the most recent COVID-19 relief package are starting to arrive in bank accounts and should land in mailboxes in the near future, but the amounts will be noticeably smaller.
This fifth round of COVID-19 stimulus that President Donald Trump signed into law Sunday resembles March’s $2.2 billion CARES Act, but it’s not nearly as generous.
Calls by Trump and Democrats to increase the checks to $2,000 appear unlikely after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the plan has “no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate.”
With no changes, this round of stimulus will cost about $920 billion, according to Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. That’s much closer to the $1 trillion package Republicans floated this summer — and a third of the bill House Democrats passed for earlier this year.
Still, this package includes a mix of proposals from both parties:
- A renewal of the Paycheck Protection Program for small business loan forgiveness
- Funds for vaccine development and distribution
- Funds for COVID testing
- Funds to equip schools with protection equipment
- Renewal of unemployment benefits
- Direct stimulus payments
Here’s a look at some of the key differences between the March stimulus package and the new law.
In addition to receiving less money this time around, fewer Americans will receive a check because the payments phase out to zero sooner.
The deal came as two unemployment programs were set to end on Dec. 26: the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides aid to self-employed, temporary workers and gig workers; and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits beyond the typical 26 weeks that states provide to jobless workers.
In addition, the law gives unemployed workers an extra $300 on top of their state benefits for 11 weeks.
The bill also gives an additional federal benefit of $100 a week to those who earned at least $5,000 a year in self-employment income but are disqualified from receiving a more generous Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefit because they are eligible for state jobless aid.
Some workers who have both wage (W-2) and self-employment (1099) income will be eligible for an additional $100 a week if their state offers it. It’s unclear how states will determine eligibility for recipients. The bonus would be on top of the $300-per-week supplement and would last until mid-March.
The $920 billion price tag for the new stimulus package is dwarfed by the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed in the spring, but a large portion of the money from the March bill passed hasn’t been spent and will likely end up funding more than half of this package.
On top of the mounting annual deficit spending, the funds appropriated for the CARES Act and three other COVID-19 relief measures committed the U.S. debt to levels not seen since World War II.
In May, USA TODAY looked at how the first four bills would impact the federal deficit and debt. That story follows.
Contributing: Jessica Menton