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Members of Congress have spent months arguing over every detail of a proposed economic stimulus package and many Americans still struggling with the effects of a global pandemic have been waiting with bated breath to find out if they’ll be receiving another much needed round of direct payments.

The first COVID-19 economic stimulus package (CARES Act), totaling more than $2 trillion dollars, was passed by Congress on March 27th, 2020. During the summer it became apparent to most that another package of some kind would be needed to help support the U.S. economy through the winter.

Discussions between congressional Democrats and Republicans on a new stimulus package stalled in October after their focus shifted to the Presidential Election. But with Joe Biden now deemed President-elect by the Electoral College, a new stimulus package appears almost certain.

In the first stimulus package, most Americans earning less than $75,000 a year were given a direct payment of $1,200, and families with children were given an additional $500 per child. The new stimulus package in its current form will cost about $900 billion dollars and include another round of direct payments of $600 per person.

The new stimulus package is in the final stage of negotiation as of Friday, Dec. 18, but a final deal has not yet been reached. However, members of Congress will be working through the weekend to finalize it and it will likely be passed before Christmas.

Once approved, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said back in August 2020, that he could have millions of payments out within a week. That means Americans who qualify for the $600 payments could start seeing them in their bank accounts as soon as the first week of January 2021, however it will likely take longer for those receiving paper checks.

In addition to the direct payments, the new stimulus package will also include $300 in unemployment benefits for those who still find themselves without work. Also included is more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

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