As congress continues to debate what the next stimulus package will look like, the president’s office has released an executive order with memorandums calling for extended unemployment aid, eviction protection, and payroll tax relief (for those earning less than $100,000 annually). While an executive order alone is not law, understanding what the order proposes and its impact on the current relief discussions in Congress is crucial to those of us who are waiting on some form of financial support from the government.
The landscape of Coronavirus support discussions has been changing so rapidly, it’s understandable if you’re not fully updated on what’s happening right now. Here is a snapshot of the current situation...
Democrats and Republicans have both tried to pass their versions of an acceptable stimulus package, but have met resistance in seeing their plans through the Congressional voting process. Congress was expected to resolve their debates by August 7th, however we are well past that date with no stimulus plan passed. Their inability to decide on an acceptable stimulus package leaves many Americans in a bind as they struggle without the aid of the CARES Act’s federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which expired at the end of July 2020.
In order to produce a stimulus package for Americans who are suffering financially from the effects of Coronavirus, members of congress will have to negotiate an acceptable middle ground across party lines. As congress members struggle to agree, Americans who were receiving pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA) to cover their expenses have now gone two weeks without the $600 benefit they used to receive, and will likely be living without financial aid for several more weeks before a new stimulus package is enacted and begins to offer tangible financial support.
In response to this delay, the President’s administration released an executive order with several memorandums on August 8, 2020 detailing four programs for rapid financial assistance. This move attempts to bypass the Congressional process, which is an unorthodox step for any President to take. Despite this, some Americans may be relieved to see some form of progress in this area, especially if they’re in a dire situation financially.
The executive order and accompanying memoranda released by the President this weekend call for the following actions:
By enacting this executive order and memorandums, the President is obliging government agencies, businesses, and individuals, to take action toward providing the above relief for citizens. Whether or not these agencies have the resources to do so is still under scrutiny. For instance, the order calls for states to supplement the PUA payments ($300 coming from federal funding and $100 from state funding) and some states claim that they simply do not have funds for additional unemployment costs.
If enacted in full, the executive order could provide much needed financial relief from certain pressing obligations, like rent, student loan payments, and certain tax costs (if employed). If you’re currently unemployed and used to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance checks, you may begin to receive an addition to your unemployment again.
The executive actions taken over the weekend place pressure on Congress to define a relief package, though it’s uncertain whether this pressure will ultimately expedite or delay the development of a workable solution.
Although it’s not addressed in the executive order or memoranda from the president’s office, one of the main similarities in all of the stimulus packages proposed in Congress (the CARES, HEROES, and HEALS Acts) has been the inclusion of a stimulus check sent directly to eligible individuals. While nobody can guarantee that a stimulus check will be coming, based on the all-around support shown for a stimulus check in Congress, we can be fairly certain that it will be included in the upcoming stimulus package, under debate now.
This means that, while you may have to wait, once Congress passes a relief plan, it’s highly likely that a stimulus check is part of that plan.
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