After an 11th hour public tantrum and threatening his own party with a veto, outgoing President Donald Trump signed the second COVID-19 relief package, avoiding a government shutdown and extending unemployment benefits to millions of Americans. The $900 billion package comes after eight months, over 240,000 American deaths, and more than 22 million jobs lost since the first coronavirus relief package was passed. In addition to providing one-time stimulus checks, the relief bill also extends two COVID-19 relief programs, eviction protection, and provides $25 billion in rental assistance.
Trump, who has been notoriously absent during the months-long debate over the bill, signed it just days after he made it a point to publicly mock Democrats and Republicans alike for securing only $600 in COVID-19 relief to eligible Americans, instead of $2,000 — something House Democrats have been proposing for months.
In a video shared via Twitter, Trump called the bill a “disgrace,” saying, “It’s called the COVID relief bill, but it has almost nothing to do with COVID.” He went on to say, “I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4000 for a couple.” Trump also took the time to demonize immigrants, blame China for the ongoing pandemic, and undermine the results of the 2020 election. And, it should also be noted that Democrats attempted to increase the amount of aid from $600 to $2,000 after Trump’s comments, but House Republicans blocked their efforts.
So, what exactly does this mean for the millions waiting on a second stimulus check? While Trump and Co. were able to avoid a completely unnecessary government shutdown by signing the bill, the lengthy and purposeful delay in signing has put millions of Americans in continued financial duress. Those who receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or financial help via the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program likely won’t receive any relief for the remainder of the year, as reported by CNN.
And while the benefits are retroactive, because Trump signed the bill on Saturday, there is likely to be a significant delay in pandemic payments — some estimate as long as several weeks. As Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst for the National Employment Law project, told The New York Times, “There will be very permanent things that can happen to people that can’t be fixed by a check in three weeks.”
Those who are eligible to receive the $600 one-time stimulus check, and have already provided the IRS with their bank information, can expect to receive the funds in their bank accounts within a few weeks. If you are not set up and/or eligible for direct deposit, a paper check or pre-loaded card will be sent via mail. Jan. 15 is the cut-off day for the IRS to send out checks as part of the second stimulus bill, meaning if you don’t receive all or just part of your check via direct deposit, paper check, or EBT, you have to claim all or part of the missing amount when you file your 2021 taxes.
While Trump publicly criticized the amount of “pork” on the bill — i.e. non-COVID related federal spending — much of what was added to the second stimulus bill came directly from the Trump administration’s annual 2021 budget. And while Trump returned the signed bill with “red lined” items and post-signing demands, Congress has signaled that it will downright ignore the lame duck president’s last-minute requests.
In other words, Trump’s last-minute decision to delay signing the bill did nothing but harm the very people he hypocritically and erroneously claims he’s “fighting for” as he steps onto another golf course. Again.