Congress is returning to Washington this week to focus on passing a wider spending bill by Dec.11 to avoid partial government shutdowns, although some relief programs could be added to the broader spending bill.
President-elect Joe Biden supports a $ 3 trillion Democrat-backed bill passed by the House of Representatives in May that provided for a second round of checks. But this package has little chance of a congressional pass unless the Democrats take control of the Senate by winning the two Georgia Senate run-offs scheduled for Jan. 5.
Congress has already allowed some relief programs to expire, such as the Small Business Paycheck Protection Program and the federal $ 600 boost in weekly unemployment benefits.
But others end this month. If Congress adds any incentive to the public spending bill, it may prioritize postponing those deadlines.
Extended unemployment benefits
As part of the historic expansion of unemployment benefits under the CARES Act, lawmakers created three programs to help unemployed Americans. While the $ 600 payment buildup lasted only for four months, the other two continued during the week ending December 26, the last weekend of the year.
One of them, the Epidemic Unemployment Assistance Program, allows freelance contractors, self-employed and temporary workers to qualify for payments. The program also opens for those who are unable to work due to the pandemic, including if they or their family members are sick or in quarantine, or if their children’s schools are closed.
The other program, called Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, provides an additional 13 weeks of federally paid benefits for those who have run out of state payments, which typically last 26 weeks.
Student loan repayment has stopped
In March, the US government automatically suspended payments and waived interest on federal student loans. This means that millions of borrowers can skip their monthly payments without increasing their account balances.
Initially, the easing – which was included in Congress’s $ 2 trillion stimulus package – was set to expire at the end of September. But President Donald Trump later decided to change the date to December 31 under executive action.
If Trump or Congress does not act to postpone the deadline, millions of student loan payments will be due two weeks before Biden takes office on Jan.20. Even if Biden brought the stoppage back on retrospectively, it could create confusion for borrowers as well as chaos for student loan processors, who were not designed to stop or start paying suddenly.
An order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came into effect in September, temporarily halting the evictions until the end of the year. This applies to renters who meet certain income requirements, have experienced significant income losses and have done their best to find help with rent and pay the rent.
Since the order does not cancel or freeze the rent, the entire tenant back rent will be due on January 1 if the deferral is allowed to stop. Without rent relief or extension of protection, many struggling tenants will face eviction again.
The eviction moratorium passed by Congress in March protected only tenants who received federal aid or lived in leased properties with federally subsidized funding. This protection expired during the summer.
Paid family leave
Earlier in the year, lawmakers expanded the benefits of paid family leave to many workers who get sick or care for someone else.
It has been restricted to employees of companies employing fewer than 500 workers, but it has provided up to two weeks of paid sick leave and an additional 10 weeks of paid extended family leave for parents who need to care for children whose schools have closed.
However, the payments are specific, and small businesses can apply for waivers from provisions affecting workers whose children’s schools have closed.
These benefits are also set to expire on December 31.
CNN’s Tami Lobby and Lauren Fox contributed to the report.