What to Know About the Two Stimulus Bills Congress Is Voting on Friday


Dec. 17 2020, Updated 9:51 a.m. ET

The House of Representatives and Senate will begin voting on Friday, Dec. 18 on additional stimulus bill options. The final bill requires a sign-off from President Donald Trump before going into effect.

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A second stimulus bill has been in the works for months, but key legislative gatekeepers have been unable to come to a consensus. The first stimulus bill—the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—passed nearly nine months prior on Mar. 27. 

What do we know about the stimulus packages?

While Democrats initially pushed a $2 trillion bill, it looks like a bipartisan Congress will vote on a deal worth around $908 billion. This total includes two separate bills:

  • A $748 billion package would provide the majority of support.
  • A smaller $160 billion package would support state and local funding as well as liability protections for companies.
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Overall, the packages will be made up of a variety of emergency relief to aid individuals, families, and companies alike.

The final packages will likely include personal aid like food and housing assistance, unemployment benefits, and direct payments. Meanwhile, businesses, schools, hospitals, and other organizations will reportedly receive relief in the form of loans and access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

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This is the first time both Republicans and Democrats have expressed support of a secondary relief bill. They're most likely splitting it into two packages so they can get something passed after a months-long stalemate.

Will Americans get another stimulus check?

Another stimulus check for individuals is on the table. However, this direct payment probably won't be as much money as the first check worth $1,200 per individual taxpayer. Instead, Americans may see half that much at $600. 

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If stimulus checks do get approved in the final deal, it may replace an extension for weekly unemployment benefits as they stand. However, unemployed individuals could still get $300 per week from the federal government depending on what Congress decides.

In addition to stimulus checks, state and local governments may get funding to help during an extended eviction moratorium. However, this is in a separate package and may not be voted on until the new year (and potentially the new administration).

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Will businesses get relief from this stimulus bill?

Congress will vote on numerous business-related decisions. The separate proposal that includes COVID-19 liability protections for businesses may not end up going through this week, with Congress instead picking it back up in the new year.

Businesses that have been hit hardest by the pandemic include in-person venues, restaurants, movie theaters, and more. An extension to the Payroll Protection Program would help prop up the most vulnerable businesses. Nationwide, we could see as much as $300 billion go toward this.

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When will Congress finalize the stimulus vote?

If Congress fails to decide on a relief bill, the U.S. government faces a shutdown until they can resolve the matter. They're expected to begin the process on Friday, but the process may also go into Saturday.

As for what members themselves have to say, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it straight. "We'll be ready when we're ready," said Pelosi to reporters.


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