The Trump administration and Congress have finally agreed to a new COVID 19 stimulus package. Here is how it impacts Whittier.
The first thing is that Whittier Area Communities will now have access to more federal money.
Each working adult member of a Whittier household that is composed primarily of US citizens will receive $600 checks. Whittier Area families could get up to $2,400 each. The checks are only for people whose income is less than $99,000 per year. The checks had been a source of dispute as President Trump wanted the government to hand out $2,000 checks to everyone in the US but the Congressional Republicans balked at that and said they would not support any packages that contained that provision. Interestingly, Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders agreed with Trump that Americans should have gotten bigger stimulus checks.
Those receiving unemployment will receive enhanced benefits. Whittier residents on unemployment will now get an extra $300 a week once the whole package is signed into law by President Trump. Those who work in the gig economy will also qualify for unemployment benefits under the deal.
The bill includes $284 billion dollars in bail out funds for businesses and non profits. The new bill makes news organizations eligible for the bail out funds. In addition to these, churches and other religious organization are also qualified for the new PPP funds.
Paying back the PPP funds is now tax deductible for all businesses. $15 billion dollars of the funds is set aside exclusively for movie theaters and cultural centers.
Local businesses can also apply for money from the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program which is being allocated $20 billion dollars which is not much so the sooner a business applies for the funds the greater its chances of being approved. The lunch time tax break is part of the EIDL program. Much of the funds are reserved for small businesses and will be distributed through community based lenders and minority owned depository institutions rather than through large traditional banks.
For those facing eviction because inability to pay rent due to COVID 19 caused unemployment, the bill will extend President Trump's nationwide eviction moratorium, which was set to expire on December 31st, to January 31st instead and experts are hoping that Biden will extend the Trump moratorium on evictions once he is sworn into office. In addition, renters who meet certain eligibility criteria will be eligible for money from a new federal pot that was allocated $25 billion that was set aside specifically to help people with rent payments. The money had been demanded by Trump supporting members in Congress who represent swing districts as well members of the socialist left.
In line with previous statements throughout the year by President Trump, Congress is caving to another Trump demand by setting aside $20 billion to ensure that all Americans get the new COVID 19 vaccines for free which means when you receive your vaccine, neither you nor your employer should have to pay anything out of pocket. This has long been one of Trump's COVID 19 demands on Congress. Under the bill, the states will get $20 billion dollars to set up mass vaccination sites in local communities.
Local colleges and public school districts will be eligible for money from a new $82 billion dollar pot that was created specifically to cover the cost of HVAC repair and installation in class rooms. $2.75 billion of the funds are set aside specifically for K-12 schools. For those looking for help with child care costs, the program sets aside $10 billion dollars to help you pay for child care.
In addition the bill provides and additional $13 billion to the food stamp program and $7 billion dollars to ensure stable internet connections.
$45 billion is being set aside for transportation. This includes $14 billion for public transit agencies, $10 billion for roads and highways, and $2 billion for intercity bus agencies. The bill also provides more money for Trump's border wall which Biden won't be able to cancel without usurping the power of the US Congress. That means the wall will continue to be built until the funds run out.
Regrettably the new bill has abolished funding for local and state governments in order to ensure that most of the funds reach every day people instead of just bureaucrats who are loyal to specific political parties.
The bill also lifts the requirement for businesses to pay hazard pay to employees who continue to work with the public during the pandemic and eliminates their financial liability for being centers of local COVID 19 outbreaks which is likely to be bad policy.
Most of the funds will go to individuals, families, and businesses with almost nothing being set aside or either the county or city governments in the Whittier Area.