“Joe Biden calling this a first step, a down payment — we knew that we would revisit it, and we would have a better chance with a Democratic president who cared about science,” Ms. Pelosi said in an interview, adding that “we’ll have presidential leadership.”
But the discussions about another relief package will pose an initial test of Mr. Biden’s approach to working with Congress, and his optimism about the prospects of bipartisan legislating in an intensely polarized era. With just under a month until the inauguration, he still does not know what the balance of power will be in Congress when he assumes office, and House Democrats face a significantly smaller majority in 2021.
Lawmakers agreed to a plan to issue stimulus payments of $600 and distribute a federal unemployment benefit of $300 for 11 weeks. You can find more about the bill and what’s in it for you here.
- Will I receive another stimulus payment? Individual adults with adjusted gross income on their 2019 tax returns of up to $75,000 a year would receive a $600 payment, and heads of households making up to $112,500 and a couple (or someone whose spouse died in 2020) earning up to $150,000 a year would get twice that amount. If they have dependent children, they would also get $600 for each child. People with incomes just above these levels would receive a partial payment that declines by $5 for every $100 in income.
- When might my payment arrive? Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that he expected the first payments to go out before the end of the year. But it will be a while before all eligible people receive their money.
- Does the agreement affect unemployment insurance? Lawmakers agreed to extend the amount of time that people can collect unemployment benefits and restart an extra federal benefit that is provided on top of the usual state benefit. But instead of $600 a week, it would be $300. That would last through March 14.
- I am behind on my rent or expect to be soon. Will I receive any relief? The agreement would provide $25 billion to be distributed through state and local governments to help renters who have fallen behind. To receive assistance, households would have to meet several conditions: Household income (for 2020) cannot exceed more than 80 percent of the area median income; at least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability; and individuals must qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship — directly or indirectly — because of the pandemic. The agreement said assistance would be prioritized for families with lower incomes and that have been unemployed for three months or more.
Even if Democrats win both runoff elections for Georgia’s Senate seats on Jan. 5 and gain control of the chamber, current Senate rules will require some Republican support to ensure that legislation clears the chamber. If Republicans hold on to at least one of those seats, Mr. Biden will be left contending with a Republican Senate majority.
In pursuing another package, he will also face the prospect of wrangling an elusive compromise on two of the thorniest policy provisions: a direct stream of funding for state and local governments, which he has repeatedly voiced support for, and a Republican demand for a sweeping liability shield from Covid-related lawsuits for businesses, schools and other institutions. With both sides so dug in on the two issues over about eight months of debate, congressional leaders ultimately agreed to remove both provisions from the final $900 billion agreement.
Republicans on Capitol Hill have begun to tacitly acknowledge Mr. Biden’s public desire for another package. But after spending more than $3 trillion this year to help the economy and struggling families, businesses and institutions, several Republicans are resistant to another sweeping package at the start of 2021.
“If we address the critical needs right now, and things improve next year as the vaccine gets out there and the economy starts to pick up again, you know, then maybe there’s less of a need,” Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate Republican, told reporters last week before the deal was reached.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has declined to commit to pursuing another round of relief, though he did not rule out another round of negotiations.