As Congress remains deadlocked over a new coronavirus relief package, the future of stimulus checks, unemployment benefits and the ban on evictions remains uncertain.
Much of the coronavirus relief provided to Americans in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act has been used, and lawmakers in Congress are still in disagreement on the price tag attached to another round. The months-long partisan gridlock has left several members of Washington doubting that a deal will be passed before the November election.
Senate Republicans’ recent proposal of a scaled-down $500 billion stimulus was blocked by Democrats who say the amount falls far short of their initial bid of $3 trillion and won’t do enough for the economy. “I wish I could tell you we were going to get another package, but it doesn’t look that good right now,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Friday in his most pessimistic remarks to date.
With neither parties signaling willingness to move to the middle, Trump issued an executive memorandum August 8 allowing states the option to participate in the federal Lost Wages Assistance program that would add an additional $400 to their existing unemployment benefits. In order for citizens to receive $400, states are required to foot 25 percent of the costs associated. Otherwise, they could choose to forego paying the $100 and jobless residents would receive $300 in further assistance.
Rollout under the memorandum has been slow. Despite it passing more than a month ago, only about 20 of the 49 states that applied have started distributing the funds to their citizens.
These states are: Arkansas, Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Massachusetts, Montana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas, Tennessee and Utah.
In a statement to Newsweek, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) explained that each approved state that applied before September 10 will receive six weeks in $300 supplement unemployment benefits. So far, $30 billion of the $44 billion provided in the program has been paid to the states.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has barred landlords from evicting tenants until the end of this year as the pandemic continues through September with no vaccine. The move is predicted to save tens of million of Americans from eviction as unemployment numbers continue to alarm.
Those who aren’t able to pay rent on a timely basis need to fill out a declaration form, titled “Halt in Evictions to Prevent Further Spread of Covid-19,” and provide a copy to their landlord or owner of the residential property. Not all residents are covered, only individuals who expect to earn under $99,000 in 2020. For couples and partners, the combined figure is under $198,000.
It is currently unclear what will happen beyond 2020.
Second stimulus checks
While both parties in Congress have agreed that a second round of checks is necessary, Republicans left out a provision for such direct payments in their “skinny” stimulus proposal this week.
Trump has repeatedly expressed his support for checks in recent months—experts say another round of direct payments will help his chances of reelection in November. But he has admitted he cannot administer the payments himself, only Congress can pass legislation to fund federal programs.
Most in Capitol Hill agree that another stimulus bill won’t likely be passed by the end of this month, but once an agreement is reached, it would likely be broad and include a provision for the checks.