Unemployment Advantages: What We Know (And What Not) About The $ 908 Billion Covid Assist Invoice
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$ 180 billion
The aid package provides $ 180 billion for "additional unemployment insurance," according to a framework that outlines the cost elements.
It's the second largest pot of cash available, raising just $ 288 billion to help small businesses, including funding for the paycheck protection program.
The bill would also provide money for state and local governments, vaccine development and distribution, education, housing assistance, and childcare. It would also provide legal protection to companies related to coroavirus lawsuits.
$ 300 a week
The proposal would allow unemployed workers a $ 300 increase in unemployment benefits weekly, lawmakers said when the plan was unveiled.
That's half of the $ 2.2 trillion weekly increase in the CARES bill passed this spring. This corresponds to a grant to support lost wages that President Donald Trump set up in August with federal disaster relief funds. Both grants were temporary and ended months ago.
Self-employed and gig workers
According to Cole Avery, advisor to Sen. Cassidy, the proposal would provide extra weeks of unemployment benefits for the self-employed, giants and other workers who have traditionally not been eligible for state aid.
The CARES Act has given these workers benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
The CARES Act also provided 13 additional weeks of benefits for those who have exhausted their state unemployment insurance (which lasts up to six months in most states).
The new framework would add more weeks of those payments known as Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, according to Rachel Cohen, a spokeswoman for Senator Mark Warner, D-Va., Who is one of the lawmakers leading the bill.
According to the Department of Labor released Thursday, more than 13 million Americans received support through the PUA and PEUC programs in mid-November.
Such workers, who make up two-thirds of the population on unemployment benefits, would lose all aid on the last weekend in December without action by Congress.
"Adding the weeks is crucial," said Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and an expert on unemployment. "Getting people through the winter with something is pretty important."
The timing of these additional benefits is one of the biggest question marks compared to unemployment benefits.
For one thing, it is unclear whether the $ 300 weekly surcharge would be retroactive. Democrats had called for payments to be reset to early September when payments for assistance with lost wages ended.
As of now, payments appear to be no longer retroactive – meaning they would be available to unemployed workers from Jan. 1, Cohen said. However, negotiations are fluid and could change, she said.
Legislators have also discussed making the $ 300 subsidy available through December 1st.
The length of the fringe benefits for PUA recipients (e.g. self-employed and gig workers) and those collecting PEUC (workers who have exhausted their standard state allowances) is also unclear.
However, it seems that they would last at least three months by the end of March.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Had proposed an extension of three months in a separate, narrower aid proposal. In a speech on Sunday, Chuck Schumer, chairman of the Senate Minority, D-N.Y., Said the non-partisan law would extend these benefits by four months.
Evercore economist and former Treasury officer Ernie Tedeschi said that the cost of three months of funding with payments of $ 300 per week plus a three-month extension of PUA and PEUC benefits would cost about $ 140 billion.
That's about $ 40 billion less than the $ 180 billion cap set by the bipartisan framework.
"You have a little space to work," said Tedeschi.