The new COVID relief package is signed. Now what?
Late Sunday evening, President Trump signed a COVID-19 relief and government
funding bill days after suggesting he would throw a wrench into Congress’ year-end
plans by blocking it. After calling the bipartisan bill a “disgrace” for sending billions
in foreign aid and only $600 to individual Americans, Trump was widely criticized by
leaders of both parties, as well as President-elect Joe Biden who called Trump’s lack of urgency in signing the bill an “abdication of responsibility.”
The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package contains a host of extensions for key programs rolled out in earlier coronavirus relief measures. Among them includes an additional $300 per week federal unemployment supplement through mid-March, a replenishment of the Paycheck Protection Program, $25 billion for rental assistance, as well as funding for vaccine rollouts and state testing efforts.
The most contentious part of the bill came to light after the bill was passed and on President Trump’s desk. It provides for $600 direct payments to most individuals and $600 for every child. Trump, whose own staff negotiated the bill on behalf of the White House, promised Congressional leaders that the $600 amount would garner Trump’s signature; however, following the bill’s passage, Trump took to Twitter urging an increase to $2000 per adult and child. He ultimately backed down from the position due to bipartisan criticism and the prospect of presiding over a government shutdown in his final days in office. The signing delay still resulted in about 14 million people losing out on a week’s worth of unemployment benefits.
Democrats hailed Trump’s change of attitude on the amount of relief for American citizens and vowed to pass stand-alone legislation to send an additional $2000 to individuals. Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have already stated they will
push for another relief bill in the coming months, with a focus on state and local
government aid and business liability protection from COVID related lawsuits, both of which were too contentious to pass under this bill.
So, just who is eligible for the checks?
Alabamians making up to $87,000 and couples earning up to $174,000 will receive
some form of payment under the new relief package. Individuals will also receive $600 for each dependent under the age of 17. For example, a single person earning $50,000 in 2019 with four children under 17 is eligible for a $3000 payment.
The Treasury Department expects to send out the first round of checks within days after honing their processes from the first round of payments earlier this
year. Citizens will receive payment from the same method of disbursement in the spring. The legislation sets a January 15, 2021 deadline for payments to be distributed.