Monday, December 28, 2020 : By Nathan Skates
After previously saying he would veto the stimulus bill recently passed by Congress, President Trump has now signed the $900 billion package. The bill provides stimulus checks, unemployment benefits, and an extension of the moratorium on evictions. The stimulus checks, however, remain at $600 as opposed to the $2,000 mark that Trump was calling for.
President Trump initially opposed the stimulus package because he felt that the direct payments of $600 to Americans was too low. He wanted Congress to increase the stimulus checks to $2,000 and eliminate the wasteful spending packed into the bill. Trump has since signed the bill, preventing a government shutdown while also advocating for an increase in the stimulus checks. He also wrote a special message to Congress under the Impoundment Act of 1974, sending back a redlined version of the signed bill and demanding that legislators remove wasteful items. The $900 billion stimulus package was passed as part of a $2.3 trillion budget.
President Trump previously said that he would veto the stimulus package, stating that the $600 direct payments to Americans were too low and should be increased to $2,000 per adult. The President decided to sign the budget and stimulus package to prevent a government shutdown and any further delay getting needed financial aid to Americans and small businesses hurt by the COVID-19 lockdowns.
The stimulus checks will be a one-time payment of $600 for eligible individuals. The eligibility requirements are the same as the previous round of stimulus checks: a 2019 income of $75,000 or less for an individual and $150,000 or less for married or joint filers. Filers will also receive $600 for each child listed as a dependent.
The payment can be issued by direct deposit. If a person chooses that payment method, they may receive their checks in as little as two weeks. Dependent children 17 years old or older cannot receive a check, and a parent cannot be issued a check for them.
The stimulus package extends the amount of time a person is eligible to receive unemployment benefits and adds $300 per week in federal unemployment benefits to any unemployment payments provided by the state.
The stimulus package also provides $25 billion in rent assistance. To be eligible for the benefit, household income cannot exceed 80 percent of the median household income, one or more members of the household must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability, and individuals must qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial difficulty due to COVID-19.
The stimulus package extends a moratorium on the eviction of renters through January 31. To qualify for this benefit, renters must have experienced substantial financial hardship, such as a layoff, and cannot earn more than $99,000, or double that amount for married filers.
Notably, there was no extension of the moratorium on federal student loan repayment. President Trump previously extended student loan relief to January 31, but there was no further extension of the relief in the stimulus package. President-elect Joe Biden has voiced support for forgiving at least $10,000 of federal student loan debt for each borrower, and it is likely that some action will be taken regarding student loans under a Biden administration.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted after Trump signed the bill, “The compromise bill is not perfect, but it will do an enormous amount of good for struggling Kentuckians and Americans across the country who need help now.”
McConnell’s fellow Republican senator from Kentucky did not share his enthusiasm. Sen. Rand Paul criticized the bill and its supporters on the Senate floor, saying, “To so-called conservatives who are quick to identify the socialism of Democrats: If you vote for this spending monstrosity, you are no better.”
“If free money were the answer, if money really grew on trees, why not give more free money? Why not give it out all the time? Why stop at $600 a person? Why not $1,000? Why not $2,000? Maybe these new Free-Money Republicans should join the Everybody-Gets-A-Guaranteed-Income Caucus? Why not $20,000 a year for everybody? Why not $30,000? If we can print out money with impunity, why not do it?”
Paul also took issue with the size of the bill, saying that Congress was not given enough time to read it. He tweeted, “Deficit busting bill will be 5,593 pages! If 250 words per page, then that’s 1,398,250 words. If Congresspeople read at the American average of 300 words/min (a big assumption) then a Congressperson might read this in 4,660 minutes or 77.68 hours! (if no rest breaks).”
After Trump signed the stimulus package, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she will bring a separate standalone bill authorizing $2000 direct stimulus payments to a full vote at some point on Monday.
Some have criticized President Trump’s delay in signing the bill, claiming that it will cost people a week of additional unemployment benefits. That may be the case, but it appears. the president is attempting to address issues with the bill and provide greater assistance through larger stimulus checks. Trump stated,
“I will sign the omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed. I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill.”
Before passing a gargantuan $2.3 trillion dollar budget, including a $900 billion COVID relief package, it probably was important for legislators to actually know what was in the bill they voted on, but as has been their tradition for some time now, they prefer to wait until after the bill has been passed to find out.
Check out the Falkirk Center podcast with Sheriff Chad Bianco on disobeying California’s lockdown orders: