The U.S. House was expected to vote late Monday on a bill to increase stimulus checks for Americans under a certain income level from $600 in direct payments to $2,000 after President Donald Trump on Sunday signed a COVID-19 relief and government funding measure.
Trump before Christmas, as he was considering approval of the Senate-passed $900 billion coronavirus relief measure, had called the bill “a disgrace” but signed it Sunday night, averting a government shutdown. The coronavirus relief was part of a larger $2.3 trillion government funding measure.
After Trump’s approval, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a statement, saying: “Now, the president must immediately call on congressional Republicans to end their obstruction and to join him and Democrats in support of our stand-alone legislation to increase direct payment checks to $2,000.”
Sen. Mitch McConnel (R-Ky.), majority leader in the U.S. Senate, did not mention any stimulus increase, but he did praise Trump’s signing of the “crucial relief legislation.
“The compromise bill is not perfect, but it will do an enormous amount of good for struggling Kentuckians and Americans across the country who need help now,” McConnell said in a statement.
Congress approved the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package on Dec. 21. It includes a $600 one-time stimulus checks for Americans who earned less than $75,000 last year and extended supplementary unemployment benefits by $300 per week until mid-March.
Trump had said the measure did not include enough support for restaurants, “whose owners have suffered so grievously.” He said restaurants were only given a two-year deduction for business expenses —apparently referring to the restoration of tax breaks for business meals.
In the Senate, the $900 billion package passed with a 92-6 vote in favor. In the House, the vote was 359-53.
The latest COVID relief package did not include specific support for the hard-hit restaurant industry. It did, however, include $284 billion in another round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, which has been a lifeline for many restaurants.
The bill allows restaurants to apply for a second helping of the forgivable loans, and it expands how operators can use the money, creates more safeguards for small businesses and eases the tax implications.
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