After months of deadlock, Congress finally managed to agree on a new economic stimulus package on Sunday. The new bill is expected to be passed by both the House and Senate in an emergency vote on Monday, thus ensuring that a dreaded shutdown will be avoided.
The new $900 bill, which is less than a third of the size of the $3 trillion CARES that passed in March, includes $166bn for direct payments to Americans (commonly referred to as stimulus checks), $325 billion for loans to small businesses, $120 billion for federal benefit boosts for the unemployed and $69 billion for vaccines, testing and tracing.
However, much to the bitter disappointment of many Americans, the new round of stimulus checks approved under this new bill are valued at just $600, which is half the amount of the first $1,200 stimulus checks that were sent out earlier this year under the CARES Act.
Trump wanted to see Americans receive up to $2,000 stimulus checks
While Donald Trump is expected to sign the $900 billion bill into law once it passes Congress this Monday, the President himself is understood to be disappointed that lawmakers could not agree to a larger stimulus check than the $600 payment that has been agreed under the new package.
Trump said he wanted the payments to be “at least” $1,200 and perhaps as large as $2,000, according to The Washington Post. Business Insider reports that “White House aides reportedly talked Trump out of asking for $2,000 direct payments for Americans, for fear it could disrupt negotiations between Democrats and Republicans.”
A few days before lawmakers had agreed to this new bill, Trump called for Congress to send another round of stimulus payments to Americans, saying he wanted to â€œsee checksâ€”for more money than theyâ€™re talking aboutâ€”going to people.â€
Unfortunately for Trump and the millions of Americans who have been waiting months for a second round of stimulus checks, that did not materialize as Congress eventually agreed to this significantly reduced payment. Some citizens have branded the 50% cut as a â€œdisgraceâ€, while others have expressed relief and labelled the $600 payment â€œbetter than nothingâ€.
Biden applauds bipartisan bill
Like Trump, Joe Biden has always been in favor of Congress passing a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks and the president-elect will also be disappointed that they have not done so. The overall budget for the final $900 billion bill is less than a third of what Democrats originally wanted to spend, which will be another blow for Biden, who will be in desperate need of funds as he looks to oversee the repair of the battered US economy upon taking office in January.
Of course, a $3 trillion package would have been much better for Biden in this regard. Nevertheless, he took a positive tone in a statement released on Monday following the agreement on the new bill, applauding â€œthe bipartisan Congressional economic relief package that will deliver critical resources to fight COVID-19, including funding for vaccine distribution, and much needed temporary relief for workers, families, and small businesses.â€
â€œThis bill provides critical temporary support for millions of Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, support to help keep families in their homes, and food on their table; and direct payments to help Americans make it through a dark winter. It gives a lifeline to small businesses struggling to stay afloat, having previously found themselves at the back of the line for relief,â€ said Biden in the statement.
He added: â€œBut this action in the lame duck session is just the beginning. Our work is far from over. On day one, my administration will be ready to undertake additional steps to get the virus under control and build our economy back better than it was before this crisis.â€