Trump signs stimulus bill: 1 week before payday
By ELIOT DUC
After threatening to torpedo a pair of federal spending bills, President Donald Trump decided to reverse his demands for increased payments to Americans and sign the packages into law.
The first COVID-19 relief payments could hit bank accounts starting the week of January 4, for those with directly deposited tax refunds. It will take a little longer for others to receive a paper check or prepaid debit card, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Congress passed two big bills last week totaling more than $ 2 trillion – one for COVID-19 relief and to keep government open and another to fund the military and homeland security. Trump responded with a video message calling for the direct payments of $ 600 included in the package to be increased to $ 2,000 per taxpayer. Trump also cited several examples of foreign aid that he believes should be used to help Americans struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ultimately, with the government facing a shutdown, unemployment benefits expiring for some people, and strong bipartisan pressure to secure stimulus checks, Trump backed down from his veto threats and chose to sign the bills. .
“I will sign the Omnibus and Covid Package with a strong message that clearly tells Congress that unnecessary items should be removed,” Trump said. “I will return to Congress a version underlined in red, item by item, along with the formal request to cancel to Congress insisting that these funds be removed from the bill.”
Lawmakers worked for several months with Mnuchin on bills before reaching a bipartisan deal that sent direct payments to people, added $ 300 to weekly unemployment benefits, funded the wage protection program, and provided money to people. local governments to help deal with the pandemic. With a small percentage of the nearly $ 1 trillion COVID relief package going into the pockets of citizens, Trump wanted to see more.
“It’s called the COVID Relief Bill, but it has almost nothing to do with COVID,” Trump said. “Congress has found a lot of money for other countries, lobbyists and special interests while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it.”
Despite the president’s objections, Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC, 7th) defended the bills, saying the cost of doing nothing is greater than making a deal that not everyone is happy with.
“Certainly there is waste in all categories of spending, and I hear calls to withdraw all the money from foreign aid,” Rouzer said. “What may not be obvious is that the money that will help defend Israel and our other allies would turn into very little stimulus support. The $ 600 stimulus payment is costing the treasury $ 166 billion because of the hundreds of millions of people receiving it. A payment of $ 2,000 would cost the treasury about $ 553 billion – by the way, that’s just relatively little of the amount allocated to fund the entire military. Now let’s put the dollar numbers into perspective. The highest turnover for foreign operations and the State Department for foreign aid is about $ 56 billion in total, or about 1% of the total federal budget.
Failure to comply with the measures would have resulted in a government shutdown from Monday evening and left military families without paychecks. Rouzer said that while the bills aren’t ideal, they have benefited North Carolina residents, especially farmers and small business owners.
“The $ 13 billion in agricultural aid is an absolute necessity, including money for contract producers who have lost their contracts due to supply disruptions caused by the pandemic,” Rouzer said. “There are many other important provisions that could be lost if this package is vetoed and a rewrite is forced. The COVID-related provisions in the bill are badly needed. The PPP program is being replenished so that restaurants and other small businesses can benefit from another round of funding. And PPP payments will no longer be taxed, which has been a major concern of so many small businesses who have contacted my office. All PPP loans of $ 150,000 or less would be automatically canceled. “
Mnuchin said last week that direct payments could start to flow in a few weeks. The new stimulus checks are based on 2019 adjusted gross income and pay $ 600 for people earning $ 75,000 or less and $ 600 for each dependent child.
The payments gradually decrease as the person earns. Capitol Hill Democrats supported the $ 2,000 direct payments, but Republicans did not.
Eliot Duke can be reached at [email protected] or 910-230-2038.