House passes legislation on $2,000 stimulus checks
DAYS after expressing doubts over Congress’ coronavirus relief bill, President Donald Trump on Sunday, Dec. 27 signed the bill, leaving the U.S. government scrambling to send out the one-time stimulus check as soon as possible.
The $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill — which adds up to $2.3 trillion when factoring in other government spending — includes a one-time $600 direct payment to millions of American taxpayers and an extension of unemployment benefits to the jobless, gig workers and independent contractors, as previously reported in the Asian Journal.
The bill was chock full of other financial allocations that were originally in the omnibus government spending bill, leading the president to call the bill “a disgrace” that strayed too far from the original intent of COVID-19 relief legislation.
Trump’s signing of the bill on Sunday night was not without conditions; according to a statement confirming his formal approval of the bill, the bill’s passing was contingent upon the Senate’s consideration of further legislation that would increase stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000.
This likely catalyzed the House to gavel in on a holiday week, and in a bipartisan vote on Monday, Dec. 28 passed legislation that would increase stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000.
The bill is now in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the Republican-heavy Senate, who have opposed the $2,000 figure for months arguing it will increase the country’s debt.
As of press time, it is unclear whether McConnell will consider the updated legislation but Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) wrote on Twitter in support of the increased stimulus check.
“I am concerned about the debt, but working families have been hurt badly by the pandemic,” Rubio said. “This is why I supported $600 direct payments to working families & if given the chance will vote to increase the amount.”
Whether they end up being $600 or $2,000, it is unclear when the payments will arrive, but some experts predict the payments should arrive in the next two weeks. During the first roll-out of the $1,200 stimulus checks sent out in the spring, it took about two weeks between the time of Trump’s signing and the arrival of the first checks.
Those who have bank information on file with the IRS will likely receive money first via direct deposit; others will receive paper checks or prepaid debit cards in the mail.
Trump’s eleventh hour signing of the bill — which was passed in Congress earlier last week — may provide temporary relief for an economically struggling American public, but the delay comes at the expense of those enrolled in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs.
Both programs were part of the historic expansion of the federal unemployment system that Congress enacted in the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stability (CARES) Act passed in late March. The former allowed independent and self-employed workers as well as those who can’t work due to the pandemic to qualify for up to 39 weeks of payments. The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, on the other hand, provided an extra $300 weekly payment to people who run out of state payments.
Both programs would have expired on Dec. 31, 2020.
Roughly 12 million people were enrolled in either program and would have received their last payment this weekend. The passage of this new bill means an extra 10 weeks, but because of Trump’s delayed signing of the bill, beneficiaries won’t receive a payment for the final week of the year.