COVID-19 stimulus bill signed into law

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Jobless benefits are extended, and most Americans will receive direct payments

After demanding larger direct payments to Americans, President Trump relented and signed the coronavirus (COVID-19) stimulus bill into law, averting a government shutdown.

As Trump signed the legislation, he issued a list of changes he wants to be made, including removal of some non-pandemic provisions. Democrats have said they have the votes to block that move.

Trump also called for a second measure sending Americans an additional $2,000 in aid. Many Democrats support that. 

The measure Trump signed was agreed to by both parties in Congress a week ago. Its key provisions are:

  • $600 in direct payments to both adults and children;

  • $300 a week in extra unemployment benefits for 10 weeks;

  • $25 billion in rental assistance, extending the moratorium on evictions;

  • $280 billion for new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans;

  • $15 billion in grants for theaters and other performance venues;

  • $13 billion in additional food stamp and nutrition funding; and

  • $30 billion to purchase more COVID-19 vaccines.

Direct payments based on income

The direct payments to Americans are half the amount contained in the CARES Act, with more of the money targeted to people most in need. Households are expected to receive $600 per adult and $600 per child, with the amounts decreasing as income levels rise.

Individuals earning up to $75,000 and households earning up to $150,000 will receive the full amount but will begin to be phased out as income levels rise above that.

“Much more money is coming,” Trump said in his signing statement. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) agreed, noting that Senate Republicans have so far not supported a stand-alone bill with more generous aid.

“Now, the President must immediately call on Congressional Republicans to end their obstruction and to join him and Democrats in support of our stand-alone legislation to increase direct payment checks to $2,000, which will be brought to the floor tomorrow,” Pelosi said in a Sunday evening statement. “Every Republican vote against this bill is a vote to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny the American people the relief they need.”

How quickly the aid in the just-signed bill starts flowing remains to be seen. Last week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Americans would begin receiving stimulus payments this week.

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