Officials push for $2,000 stimulus checks after Trump signs coronavirus relief bill into law

Officials push for $2,000 stimulus checks after Trump signs coronavirus relief bill into law
Some Democratic officials from Long Island called for President Trump to be removed from office after protestors invaded the Capitol building Wednesday afternoon. (Photo by Stephen Romano)

Local officials called on U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to push for $2,000 stimulus checks for American citizens after President Donald Trump signed a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill into law on Sunday night.

Congress approved the nation’s second stimulus package to aid people in the ongoing fight against the coronavirus pandemic last week. The bill passed in the House 359-53 and in the Senate 92-6.

The measure calls for direct payments of $600 to adults and children, payments of $300 per week for workers receiving unemployment benefits through March 14 and $20 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Grants.

Despite signing the legislation after a five-day delay, Trump advocated for an increase of $1,400 for the second wave of stimulus checks for American citizens.

“$2000 for our great people, not $600! They have suffered enough from the China Virus!!!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

Local officials on Long Island and in New York expressed support for the increased payments.

“With Trump finally signing the bipartisan agreement, more relief is on the way. But it is not nearly enough,”  U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) said Monday. “Today, the House will vote to increase direct payment checks to $2,000, just like the President wishes. Now he must get his Republican colleagues in Congress on board.”

On Monday, the Democratic-led House voted 275-134 to increase the payments to $2,000, but the measure’s fate in the Republican-controlled Senate was unclear.

“The President’s cynical ploy to threaten the COVID relief package to obscure his dark of night pardons has resulted in a fighter’s chance to provide people with a $2,000 stimulus check if we can only get Mitch McConnell to show some empathy,” U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) said. “Let’s get this done. People need relief.”

McConnell, the Senate majority leader, on Tuesday did not promise any action on the $2,000 proposal and objected to proposed action by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) to have the Senate pass the stimulus proposal by unanimous consent.

“$600 is not enough,” Schumer tweeted. “Democrats will fight for the Senate to take a vote.”

Also featured in the relief package is $284 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, targeting small businesses with fewer than 300 employees that have seen at least a 25 percent decrease in their revenue.

“This bill will provide new direct payments to individuals and families, expanded unemployment insurance, and provide new resources to help small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat,” Rice said.

Officials said the maximum loan amount is 2.5 times a business’ monthly payroll costs up to $2 million.  Borrowers are required to spend at least 60 percent of the funds on payroll costs.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday that New Yorkers will begin to receive their unemployment benefits of $300 per week starting on Jan. 4.

“This pandemic has created an unprecedented economic crisis, and New Yorkers have waited in uncertainty for far too long,” Cuomo said. “I have repeatedly called on the federal government to do the right thing by renewing critical benefits to support millions of unemployed families through to the end of this pandemic – and now that Washington has finally acted, New York is immediately delivering those funds.”

The bill will also provide $4 billion to the MTA, far less than the $12 billion the agency has sought.

Despite a potential for increased funds to residents, local officials also were displeased at the lack of funding for state and local municipalities.

“Unfortunately, [the new package] does not provide enough resources for state and local governments who are also in desperate need of relief,” Rice said last week. “Our communities will need further federal assistance as we continue to combat this virus, and I will keep fighting for the resources Long Island needs to recover when Congress returns in the New Year.”

“I’m absolutely devastated that state and local aid is not included in this package because it will have such a negative effect on my state, and the counties, cities, towns and villages I represent,” Suozzi said last week. “I recognize, however, that too many people are suffering right now and there are many other important provisions in this compromise that will help Long Islanders and New Yorkers. We cannot let perfect be the enemy of the good.”


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