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COVID-19 relief package: No stimulus checks, but it offers an extra $300 in federal unemployment benefits

COVID-19 relief package: No stimulus checks, but it offers an extra $300 in federal unemployment benefits

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COVID-19 relief package: No stimulus checks, but it offers an extra $300 in federal unemployment benefits

Jessica Menton
 
| USA TODAY
COVID-19: Who is unemployed? The unemployment rate explainedJob loss numbers skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but not everyone was counted as unemployed. Here’s how the unemployment rate is measured.Congress is rushing to pass a proposed COVID-19 relief bill as millions of Americans face losing their jobless benefits at the end of the month.Lawmakers in Washington have been deadlocked over another stimulus package for months. Last week, however, key lawmakers appeared to make concessions in hopes a bill could pass before both chambers leave for the holidays.Leaders in the House and Senate have restarted discussions and say the best chance in passing any relief is by adding it to the annual spending bill. But that would have to happen quickly, because the House is scheduled to leave town at the end of the week. Unemployment: As COVID-19 persists, more Americans are unemployed beyond 6 months. Does that carry a stigma even in a pandemic?Jobs report: Economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as unemployment dips to 6.7% while COVID-19 rages across countryA potential deal is coming down to the wire as 12 million Americans are set to lose their unemployment benefits the day after Christmas. Eviction moratoriums for renters and protections for student borrowers are also set to expire, as well as a federal program for paid family leave.Last week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers released a $908 billion aid proposal. Democratic leaders have backed the plan as health experts warn of a bleak winter. Despite progress toward a COVID-19 vaccine, cases are on the rise in all 50 states. The surge has led to the restriction of hours and capacity of businesses across the country.With a Dec. 11 government shutdown deadline looming, Congress is likely to vote on a one-week stopgap measure this week to fund the federal government to give lawmakers more time to strike a deal on emergency stimulus legislation. On Wednesday, the House plans to vote on the short-term measure to keep the government running through Dec. 18. Potential sticking points remain. State and local government support and business liability from coronavirus-related lawsuits are the biggest remaining issues in the relief package.Here’s what the potential stimulus bill means for you:Will it extend unemployment benefits? The proposal is expected to include about $300 per week in bonus federal unemployment payments for roughly four months, providing relief just as emergency aid payments at regular benefit levels are set to expire at year’s end. That would be a lower amount than the $600 per week that jobless Americans had received under the CARES Act until late July. Will you get another stimulus check? The package is expected to leave out another round of $1,200 stimulus checks.On Sunday, lawmakers involved in the negotiations said the direct payments would have to wait until after Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20. At that time, Biden will face a new Congress as vaccines are being distributed, with a narrowed Democratic majority in the House and a closely divided Senate potentially split 50-50 if Democrats are able to prevail in two runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5.What else is in the package? The agreement includes funding for state and local governments, along with a temporary moratorium on some COVID-19-related lawsuits against companies.The measure also includes funding for small businesses, schools, health care, transit authorities and student loans.It also includes help with coronavirus testing and tracing, and vaccine distribution.Contributing: Nicholas Wu and Christal Hayes; The Associated Press

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