President-elect Biden has a 2021 stimulus plan. Here’s what you need to know right now

With just a handful of weeks left in 2020, President-elect Joe Biden continues to urge congressional leaders to work out the details of another stimulus bill. But Biden has his own economic relief plan to consider if Washington doesn’t act this year. State and local governments began lockdowns and other measures right before Thanksgiving to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which topped 250,000 deaths in the US last week. These restrictions will likely increase the economic hardship on Americans and businesses, and some programs created by the CARES Act in March and by executive actions by President Donald Trump in August to help Americans financially are set to expire at the end of 2020.

text: Biden won't be sworn into office until January, but he says he'll be ready on day one. Sarah Tew/CNET

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Biden won’t be sworn into office until January, but he says he’ll be ready on day one. Sarah Tew/CNET


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Congress began its holiday vacation without a deal in place and won’t be back in session until Nov. 30. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will begin negotiations soon, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday. To avoid a government shutdown, the two political parties must pass more funding by Dec. 11. 

Biden has appointed a COVID-19 task force and laid out his plan to address the effects of the coronavirus pandemic with a new set of strategies that complement a similar plan Biden released during his presidential campaign.

Below, we detail everything Biden may be planning in regard to stimulus payments.

Next stimulus checks: What to expect



Another round of stimulus checks

The CARES Act, passed in March, was the first stimulus package intended to help people financially affected by the pandemic. One of the most popular aspects of the act was a stimulus check of up to $1,200 sent out to more than 160 million Americans. That direct aid caused a jump in household spending, helped millions at risk of slipping into poverty and allowed others to save

Biden’s plan, like the one Trump has backed, will include more direct stimulus payments, but it doesn’t specify how many or for how much, or if any of the qualifications would change. Democrats and Republicans are currently negotiating for more stimulus relief that would include another round of direct payments, but the clock is ticking to get a bill passed.

Read moreYou don’t have to be a US citizen living in America to get a stimulus check

text: Stimulus checks are just the beginning. Angela Lang/CNET

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Stimulus checks are just the beginning. Angela Lang/CNET

A boost in unemployment benefits 

COVID-19 lockdowns across cities led to an unprecedented spike in unemployment, with more than 20 million people having lost their jobs back in May. To help those unemployed suddenly, the CARES Act provided a weekly bonus payment of $600 on top of unemployment benefits provided by the states. These extra funds expired at the end of July, and Trump restarted a smaller version of the bonus in August via an executive memo. This temporary relief provided $300 extra for six weeks and has since been exhausted; only a new stimulus package would provide more funds. (Here’s every benefit that dries up if the stimulus isn’t renewed.)


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Biden’s plan doesn’t go into specifics about how much funding may be available. It does say a bill would improve unemployment benefits. 

Bigger Social Security checks

There were no measures to boost Social Security in the CARES Act or in other relief packages since then. Biden’s stimulus plan calls for an additional $200 to be added to the monthly payments that go to Social Security recipients. 

Forgiveness of student loans 

Included in the CARES Act was a forbearance for student loans. Individuals who owed money wouldn’t need to make payments or see any interest accrue until “the end of September,” according to Biden’s stimulus vision. If implemented in the future, there would, of course, be a different cutoff date.

Back in August, Trump extended the forbearance until the end of 2020. Biden’s plan goes a different direction by offering a loan forgiveness of a $10,000 minimum. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a Democrat and former presidential candidate, outlined a plan to forgive the federal student loan debt back in September.

Other measures

Biden’s plan would also include:

  • More money for small businesses
  • Emergency sick leave for everyone who needs it
  • Fiscal relief for states
  • No out-of-pocket money for COVID-19 testing, treatment and an eventual vaccine

For more information on the stimulus package situation, read how to calculate your stimulus money, why you might receive an EIP card instead of a check and all the reasons your next check could be bigger.

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