COVID Relief Package: What You Need To Know

Madelyn Cheng

Sections 204-209 of HR- 133 (Covid Relief Bill). These sections are the extensions of unemployment.

Congress had all eyes on them as they were struggling to come to a conclusion on the COVID relief bill. The extensive bill was passed just before the new year that included $600 stimulus checks for Americans. This round of stimulus checks are only half of what was passed last May. Democrats of both chambers, some Republicans in the House, and Potus are in favor of raising the amount to $2000, which has caused political discord as Potus clashes with his own party. 

The clash between the President and the Republican party led to a string of tweets from President Trump. Before the President was permanently banned from Twitter, he tweeted out, “Unless Republicans have a death wish, and also it is the right thing to do, they must approve the $2000 payments ASAP! $600 is not enough!” The tweet came after the vote to raise the amount for $600 to $2000. The bill passed with two-thirds majority in the House but was rejected by Senate Republicans. According to the New York Times COVID relief updates, “yet in the end, only six senators, all Republicans, voted against the coronavirus relief package and spending bill, mostly citing fiscal concerns about runaway spending.” At the time, this included Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was worried about the tripled amount stifling wasteful spending. 

Some common questions about the relief package were answered by the New York Times’ latest updated news on the bill. This year, the amounts will vary depending on the individual’s adjusted gross income from 2019 tax returns. For most Americans, $600 payments are intended for individual adults who make up to $75,000 a year. There is also a $600 payment for each child of the adults who meet the requirements. The Treasury Department said that direct deposit payments started going out December 29th and would continue to mail out checks. However, the department also notes it will be a while before all eligible people receive their checks. 

Aside from the stimulus checks, the relief bill is quite extensive and detailed. According to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the bill is over 5000 pages and at the time, most legislators hadn’t even completely read it. Referring back to the New York Times’ updates, the bill includes college financial aid to the incarcerated, restrictions on planet-warming chemicals, and bans on surprise medical bills. It goes on with legislation of cracking down on selling e-cigarettes to minors, a five billion dollar military budget increase, and eradicating murder hornets. It’ll make illegal streaming services a felony and require the CIA to report back to Congress on European oligarchy events related to Russian President Vladmir Putin.  Before the bill was passed, according to the same New York Times article, the bill was stalled because Republicans were negotiating for full business liability. The purpose was to shield corporations from any pandemic related lawsuits. Luckily this didn’t make it into the bill, as it would have led to employees vulnerable to the pandemic. 

The bill has passed but the debate whether to raise the amount of the stimulus checks is ongoing. While the Republicans have control of the Senate, the amount has been objected. However, as the new administration is sworn in as well as the Georgian Democratic Senators, it may all change very soon.  The bill goes beyond the stimulus checks with the inclusion of healthcare legislation and climate action. As for students, this bill leads far into the future and will dictate how much of a future the younger generations get.