by Christy Bieber | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on Dec. 28, 2020
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The long wait for stimulus checks is over.
Last week, the House and Senate finally passed a compromise coronavirus stimulus bill after months of difficult negotiations. The $900 billion coronavirus relief package was added to a broader $1.4 trillion government funding bill that also allowed operations of the federal government to continue without the threat of a shutdown.
However, Washington was thrown into disarray when President Donald Trump didn't sign the compromise bill his administration helped to negotiate. The president instead referred to it as a "disgrace," railing against spending he saw as wasteful, and arguing that Americans deserved $2,000 stimulus checks instead of the $600 that the bill provided.
His opposition to the bill left millions of people uncertain about whether the government would shut down, and whether they would receive stimulus checks and expanded unemployment benefits. In the interim, unemployment benefits ended for millions and Congress prepared to vote on an emergency short-term funding bill to avert a shutdown.
On Sunday, however, Trump put his signature on the compromise bill, thus guaranteeing that struggling individuals and families will soon get help.
Although Trump signed the stimulus bill on Sunday while vacationing in Florida, he did so despite dissatisfaction with the agreement that lawmakers reached.
The president released a statement saying, "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."
Congress does not have to respond to the president's redlining, and is unlikely to do so -- the congressional term ends in a few days, and President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January.
Trump also indicated that the Senate would soon consider other action, including increasing the size of direct payments, eliminating certain liability protections for technology companies, and focusing on his claims of voter fraud in the presidential election.
However, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he applauded "President Trump's decision to get hundreds of billions of dollars of crucial COVID-19 relief out the door and into the hands of American families as quickly as possible," he did not commit to addressing any other policy priorities.
Now that the coronavirus stimulus legislation is signed, Americans are in line to receive stimulus checks valued at $600 per adult and $600 per eligible child dependent.
The full amount is available to single tax filers with incomes up to $75,000 and joint filers with incomes up to $150,000. For incomes above these thresholds, eligibility phases out at a rate of $5 per $100 in extra income -- so those with earnings above $87,000 as a single filer or $174,000 as a married joint filer will not receive money.
These checks are half the amount of the ones provided by the CARES Act, and the income limit at which eligibility phases out is lower. The small size of the checks was one of the president's principal objections to the bill. Democrats have joined Trump in calling for additional money, but most Republicans oppose the larger payments the president requested.
The legislation also provides an extra $300 per week in unemployment benefits until March 14, and extends benefits for gig workers and freelancers who wouldn't ordinarily qualify for jobless benefits. It also allows benefits to continue for those who have been on unemployment for the maximum number of weeks ordinarily permitted.
More money for the Paycheck Protection Program is also included to help businesses, along with targeted funds for the entertainment industry, for renters, for coronavirus vaccines, for an extension of eviction moratoriums, for schools, and for transportation.
The $600 stimulus checks could be delivered as soon as next week, so if you've been waiting for more money in your bank account, the president's signature on the bill means you're finally in line to get it.
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