Welp, it finally happened. After months of contentious negotiations between groups of people who have plenty of money who make decisions that greatly affect people who don’t, Senate officials announced the bipartisan $900 billion coronavirus stimulus package—one that will provide most Americans with $600 to help make ends meet as the pandemic rages on. As one can easily imagine, not everyone is thrilled about struggling Americans getting half of the $1,200 amount they got from the first stimulus package.
“More help is on the way. Moments ago, in consultation with our committees, the four leaders of the Senate and House finalized an agreement,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said from the Senate floor, the Washington Post reports. “It would be another major rescue package for the American people. As our citizens continue battling this coronavirus pandemic this holiday season, they will not be fighting alone.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) also spoke Sunday appearing to acknowledge that $600 isn’t enough for many people to pay one month’s rent let alone survive a pandemic without sufficient wages.
From the Post:
Schumer then took to the floor, calling the aid package insufficient but heralding it as a critical measure to “give the new president a boost, a head start, as he prepared to right our ailing economy.”
The House and Senate on Sunday night approved a one-day extension of government funding to allow the final bill text on the relief package to be written. President Trump signed the stopgap measure, preventing a government shutdown.
The legislation includes stimulus checks for millions of Americans of up to $600 per person. The size of that benefit would be reduced for people who earned more than $75,000 in 2019 and disappear altogether for those who earned more than $99,000. The stimulus checks would provide $600 per adult and child, meaning a family of four would receive $2,400 up to a certain income.
Congress would also extend federal unemployment benefits of up to $300 per week, which could start as early as Dec. 27.
Schumer described the package as “just a first step.”
“This is an emergency, we need a second bill to continue dealing with the emergency and to start stimulating our economy so we get back to where we were and that will be job number one in the new Biden administration,” he said.
The bill is expected to be passed by the Senate and the House by the end of the day, according to the Washington Post.
According to CBS News, before last-minute negotiations ensured that people would get some kind of money deposited into their accounts, it was unclear whether the new relief bill would include a second round of stimulus checks at all. Now it appears that “something is better than nothing” is the general attitude.
“While the deal is months late and will likely fall short of what is needed to prevent a rough winter, it’s better than nothing,” Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, wrote in a research note Sunday, CBS reports. “It will help buffer the current economic slowdown and provide increased dynamism to the economy during the initial vaccine rollout phase.”
Business Insider reports that a group of 17 Democrats recently signed a letter to congressional leadership pushing for $2,000 stimulus checks to be included in the relief package. On Friday, Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley said on MSNBC that “at this point, these are not even stimulus checks. These are survival checks.”
It has also been reported that Donald Trump’s aides stopped him from publicly pushing for $2,000 checks, but The Root’s Stephen Crockett already explained why that’s likely a bunch of bullshit.
Meanwhile, on Twitter, the hashtags #600isNotEnough and #600isNotaStimulusPakage pretty much sum up how people have generally reacted to the news.
According to CNBC, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday that people will start receiving stimulus checks as early as next week.