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Federal Policy Updates, March 27, 2020

Congress Passes Wide-Ranging Economic Stimulus Package

This morning, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a wide-ranging economic stimulus package. The U.S. Senate passed the bill earlier this week, and it is now headed to the President for signature.

Among other provisions, the bill provides critical aid, including:

A new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to provide unemployment benefits to many workers, like gig workers, who don’t qualify for the regular unemployment program because of its restrictive rules. The National Employment Law Project has a good description of unemployment related federal changes here.

Direct payments to individuals to help shore up consumer demand. These “recovery rebates” of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child will be sent to those who have filed tax returns. Millions of households – primarily people with low incomes and seniors – will need to file a tax return to receive payment. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy has a good breakdown of the impact of the recovery rebates by income group and by state, available here.

A $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund to help states and localities address budget shortfalls. It is estimated that Missouri will receive $2.38 billion from the package. It is estimated that approximately 55% of this aid will go to the state, while 45% will go to municipalities.

A $30 billion educational stabilization fund for elementary, secondary, and higher education entities dealing with distance learning challenges.

However, Congress & the Administration must do more to address the urgent needs facing our communities. Some additional needs to be taken up include:

  • Increased SNAP benefits to help struggling families put food on the table and provide a much-needed boost to consumer spending.
  • Flexible funding for states to assist them in meeting the needs of their communities.
  • Expanded health coverage to ensure everyone can access necessary COVID-19 treatment.

MBP plans to publish further analysis next week of how federal legislation will impact Missouri. Stay tuned.

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