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What the stimulus does for women

Congress made a deal — agreeing this week on a $2 trillion stimulus package to shore up the economy in the coronavirus era. The Senate passed the bill on Thursday, and the House is expected to pass it today.

What will the legislation mean for women?

A few key provisions will help struggling families. There’s a $1,200 rebate payment to all U.S. residents with adjusted gross income up to $75,000, and an additional $500 for every child age 16 or under. Congress also agreed to nearly $25 billion for food assistance, including nearly $16 billion for SNAP and nearly $9 billion for child nutrition.

The bill also temporarily expands eligibility for unemployment benefits to cover those who are partly unemployed or cannot work for coronavirus-related reasons. This is especially important for women who have to care for sick loved ones, get sick themselves or are unable to work because their child care has fallen through. (Workers who are able to work from home and who already receive paid sick leave or paid family leave are not covered.)

— By the numbers: Eighty percent of single-parent families in the U.S.are headed by single mothers, and nearly a third of those families live in poverty. Women also hold a majority of minimum-wage jobs in the United States; many of those women are now either losing their jobs as businesses close or working harder than ever, without paid sick leave, at “essential businesses” that are staying open. (Vermont and Minnesota have said they will classify grocery store clerks as emergency personnel, making them eligible for state-funded childcare.)

The stimulus grants $100 billion to healthcare providers — a figure that groups representing physicians, hospitals and nurses had demanded. That should help women, who make up nearly 80 percent of the healthcare workforce in America and about 90 percent of registered nurses, do their jobs better and safely.

In addition, the bill includes $45 million for family violence prevention services — we’ve written about how rates of domestic violence are rising during lockdown — and allows anyone with federal student loans to defer payments for six months without interest. Women hold two-thirds of the student debt in this country.

What’s missing? The bill most likely won’t address the “homework gap” between those who have reliable internet access and those who don’t. Many had advocated for an FCC program that would help families, schools and libraries connect to the internet, but Republicans and Democrats couldn’t agree on a deal, leaving millions of students at home unable to do their schoolwork online.

Democrats are already talking about passing another relief package, but some Republicans are claiming that won’t be necessary. Read more on what’s in the bill and what’s not … and here’s a helpful FAQ

*This article originally appeared in Politico

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