Congress is set to pass two major spending bills on Monday, a nearly-$1 trillion coronavirus relief bill and a $1.4 trillion omnibus bill in a record-setting vote that will fund hundreds of government programs and, according to lawmakers, assist individual Americans struggling to make ends meet because of COVID-19 related restrictions.
The bill does, in fact, contain some help for those facing economic struggles. In addition to providing a second round of direct stimulus checks to individual taxpayers — this time just $600, half of what was issued in the spring — the bill extends Federal supplemental unemployment benefits. The jobless, as well as gig employees experiencing a slowdown in business, can now get an extra $300 per week through mid-March.
The coronavirus relief package expands the Paycheck Protection Program, opening up $248 billion in funding for loans to struggling businesses, even as evidence emerges that millions from the first round of PPP loans went to connected corporations. This time around, the COVID-19 bill contains special grants for specific industries: “$20 billion for businesses in low-income communities and $15 billion for struggling live venues, movie theaters, and museums,” per Politico.
There are a number of breaks for businesses, some of which haven’t gone over well on social media. The relief bill “includes a two-year tax break for business meals — a priority for President Donald Trump — and rolls over a variety of temporary tax breaks known as “extenders,” some for multiple years,” the same outlet notes. The “business meal” deduction has been labeled the “three-martini lunch” deduction, though very few people aside from key Democratic legislators in major cities are having many dine-in lunches.