America’s leaders face an urgent set of decisions on whether to extend history’s biggest rescue effort -- or let parts of it lapse.

The government approved more than $2 trillion of extra spending after the coronavirus brought swaths of industry and commerce to a sudden halt. Some measures targeted those who took the biggest hit, like the unemployed and small business. Others were across-the-board, reaching every corner of the economy.

But these programs are due to run out in the coming weeks and months. Each expiration date will test the still-fragile U.S. recovery -- unless policy makers opt to keep crisis supports in place.

These kind of cutoff dates, when past decisions dictate a big change in net government spending unless further action is taken, are sometimes known as “fiscal cliffs.” They have a history of roiling markets, as politicians take the debate to the brink.

The Trump administration wants another relief bill, with a price tag not exceeding $1 trillion, before lawmakers head out of town for summer recess in early August. The Democrat-controlled House already approved additional measures worth $3.5 trillion, but Republicans who have a Senate majority oppose many of them.

Here are some of the looming deadlines, and the numbers involved.

Unemployment Insurance
The federal government added $600 a week to state-provided jobless benefits under the CARES Act, the main coronavirus relief measure passed by Congress in March. Those extra payments, which helped plug a hole in household finances, are due to run out in the final week of July.

What to do next has turned into a fierce political fight. With unemployment still at levels not seen since the Great Depression era, the Treasury has been disbursing the benefits at a record pace of about $100 billion a month since May. Republicans are concerned that the payments could deter people from resuming their jobs, and want some of the stimulus channeled into a “back-to-work bonus” instead.

Big Business
The government handed $25 billion in payroll support to America’s passenger airlines to help them retain staff through the end of September, as well as offering loans worth a similar amount.

The carriers have already signaled that layoffs will likely start as soon as that program expires. This month, United Airlines told some 36,000 employees -- about 45% of its U.S. workforce -- that their jobs will be at risk starting in October.

So far the trade group for major carriers, Airlines for America, says it isn’t seeking additional funding, although labor unions in the industry have called for an extension of the aid programs.

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