Congress’ $900B stimulus deal would provide $600 per individual

Congress has passed a $900 billion stimulus package that will include direct payments to most Americans and extend unemployment benefits into the spring. The bill awaits President Donald Trump’s signature, and a new round of stimulus checks could begin to roll out as early as next week.

The legislation also provides protection for the stimulus payments against garnishment by debt collectors. Besides, the payments cannot be used to offset old child support enforcement debts that are owed to state governments. Lauren Saunders, associate director, National Consumer Law Center, a consumer advocacy, noted, “Debt collectors grabbed many of the first stimulus payments, but fortunately it will be hands off for these payments.”

See related: Coronavirus: Credit card issuers offer cardholders relief

New round of stimulus payments, unemployment benefits  

In a Christmas gift for U.S. consumers, the new measure will authorize $600 in direct payments, which is half the $1,200 approved in the first round of stimulus passed earlier this year. There is an income cutoff for the payment, with individuals making up to $75,000 a year and couples making up to $150,000 annually qualifying for the full $600.

Those with dependent children under the age of 16 will also qualify for $600 in payments for each child. As in the previous stimulus round, those above the stated income thresholds will qualify for a lower phased-in payment. In this new round, families in which one person doesn’t have a Social Security number would also qualify for the stimulus payments.

The stimulus also extends unemployment benefits until April and provides a $300 unemployment supplement for 11 weeks. And it extends a program that provides benefits for freelance and gig workers, and contract workers.

See related: Americans would save more of a second stimulus check, study shows

Paycheck Protection Program extended, evictions stayed

The Congressional deal would also extend a moratorium on evictions for a month, The Washington Post reports. After that, it would be up to the new administration to extend it again if it sees fit. And the deal would make for about $25 billion in emergency assistance to renters.

The proposals would grant businesses some relief too, extending the Paycheck Protection Program with $275 billion in funding. Those whose PPP loans are forgiven will also be eligible to have costs that the loans cover deducted on their tax payments if they meet certain criteria.

The Congressional deal had been held up earlier over a disagreement about whether the Fed could initiate new emergency lending programs identical to the ones that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin had declined to extend to next year. The deal would allow the Fed to engage in similar programs, but not identical ones.