After several days spent threatening not to sign a critical bill unless Congress agreed to some demands for bigger stimulus checks that Republicans had rejected, Donald Trump finally signed the $2.3 billion COVID-19 stimulus and government funding bill passed last week. Trump’s refusal to sign the bill threatened to cause not only a government shutdown but would also have led to the end of crucial protections for people affected by COVID-19, including a moratorium on evictions.
The bill was passed by the Democratic-led House of Representatives last Monday and by the Republican-controlled Senate on Tuesday. But Trump derailed the process when he objected to the COVID-19 bill for a number of reasons, among them that he wanted the $600 stimulus check being sent to most Americans increased to $2,000.
Notably, Trump did not raise his objections before the bill was passed — and for the record, Democrats have been pushing for bigger checks for months but their efforts have been blocked by Senate Republicans and negotiators from Trump’s own White House. Trump was subsequently criticized for the delay, for instance by CNN host Chris Cuomo who accused Trump of holding the bill “hostage” to make himself look good.
The bill contains $900 billion for COVID-19-related stimulus and relief which includes a $15 billion package called Save Our Stages, providing $15 billion to various types of entertainment businesses such as independent cinemas, concert venues, and museums. $12 billion will be reserved for applicants who prove that the pandemic has cost their business over 70% of their revenue compared to 2019.
The COVID-19 aid package also includes a $600 stimulus check for Americans making less than $80,000 a year, and another extension of unemployment benefits. As of this writing, Democrats are still planning to convene the House of Representatives to call a vote on a bill that would provide an additional $1,400 in stimulus to Americans. Republicans in the Senate will almost certainly vote against that additional aid.