Unemployment benefits expire March 14. What’s at stake for the stimulus?


Unemployment payments are among the first federal lifesavers of the December $ 900 billion stimulus package set to expire, with additional provisions for extended paid family and sick leave, small business, food stamps, housing protections and other assistance. that expire in the next few weeks and months.
The Senate is ready this week to begin considering the massive package that the House passed early Saturday morning, largely along partisan lines. But it will take a while to pass, as senators are expected to make changes to the legislation, and then the House will have to vote on the revised bill before sending it to Biden for his signature.

Meanwhile, the clock ticks.

Unemployed Americans will receive their last weekly federal boost of $ 300 to unemployment payments in two weeks. And those who are in two key unemployment assistance pandemics will begin to run out of benefits at that point.
Some 4 million people in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs will see their benefits expire in mid-March, while payments from another 7.3 million people will expire over the next four weeks, according to a recent report. from The Century. Foundation.
The two temporary federal programs were created in Congress’ $ 2 trillion aid package last March and extended for 11 weeks in the $ 900 billion aid deal approved in December. The former provides benefits to the self-employed, self-employed workers, independent contractors and certain individuals affected by the pandemic, while the latter lengthens the duration of payments for those in the traditional state unemployment system.

The House bill calls for extending these pandemic unemployment programs, as well as providing a weekly $ 400 federal pay upgrade, through Aug. 29. The president’s plan called for continued benefits through the end of September.

However, even if Biden signs the bill in mid-March, the unemployed may experience a temporary break in payments. The US Department of Labor must issue guidance on the new law, and many states need some time to reprogram their aging systems with the new provisions.

Delays in passing and signing the December aid bill left the unemployed expecting $ 17.6 billion in benefits in January, according to another analysis by The Century Foundation.

The payments were eventually sent retroactively, but some of those who still qualify for pandemic programs have yet to re-enroll. In California, for example, it may take until March 7 for everyone to certify their eligibility for federal benefits.

What else is expiring?

Unemployment benefits are not the only assistance that will expire in the coming weeks and months.

A tax incentive for employers offering extended paid sick and family leave will expire on March 31 if the bill is not passed by then. Last year, Congress guaranteed many workers two weeks’ pay if they hired Covid or were in quarantine. It also provided an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave to those staying home with children whose schools were closed. Those benefits expired in December, but employers can still receive a tax credit if they voluntarily provided extended paid leave through March.

Food stamp recipients will receive an additional 15% in benefits through June, thanks to the aid bill that passed late last year. The last package would extend it until September.

What is not spreading

Even if the bill passes, it will not extend two other benefits that expire on March 31: a key small business assistance program and the federal moratorium on evictions.

The Paycheck Protection Program that provides forgivable loans to struggling small businesses will close on March 31. The bill will not extend the completion date, but would add $ 7 billion to the program if passed before the end of the month. It would also provide $ 15 billion to the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan Program, which provides long-term, low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration as well as $ 25 billion for a new grant program specifically for bars and restaurants.
The federal eviction moratorium that protects struggling tenants will expire on March 31, but no extension is allowed on the reconciliation bill. Instead, the extension must be done through executive action. The Biden administration previously extended protection from January 31 to March 31, although the constitutionality of the moratorium is being challenged in court.

But the bill would send roughly $ 19.1 billion to state and local governments to help low-income households cover back rent, rental assistance, and utility bills. About $ 10 billion would be authorized to help struggling homeowners pay their mortgages, utilities and property taxes. It would provide another $ 5 billion to help states and localities help people at risk of experiencing homelessness.

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