The soon outgoing United States (US) President Donald Trump finally signed a $2.3 trillion coronavirus aid bill on Sunday, December 27, 2020, that brought a major relief to about 14 million American people. Trump withheld the bill after the congress unanimously passed it nearly a week ago arguing that the relief fund was weak and the unemployment benefit amount mentioned in the bill must be increased from $600 to $2000. A state of uneasiness and anxiety arose in the minds of millions of Americans when the president had refused to sign the bill, which got expired on Saturday. However, Trump’s approval of the bill has kept the unemployment relief fund alive and avoided chaotic situations, which was possible due to the abrupt closure of federal government agencies.
Reasons for Trump’s Withheld of the Bill
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic situation and its harsh impact on American economy, the 116th US Congress under the Trump administration passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act on March 27, 2020. The economic stimulus bill, which was worth a $2.2 trillion, aimed at providing relief funds to unemployment people as well as various business organizations to help in the reconstruction of their operational loss impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The bill was formulated as a 9 month relief fund and got expired on December 27, 2020.
A week ago, Congress passed a resolution to renew the bill and extend the CARES Act till March 2021. However, Trump had declined to approve the bill passed by Congress and called it a “disgrace” as he was not pleased with the allotment of the funds especially direct payment amounts to Americans. The Republican president threatened to block the bill using his veto power until Congress made a change for the direct payment provision from $600 to $2000 and millions of Americans were worried about losing their benefits. However, Trump signed the bill a day after the deadline expired and claimed that both the House and Senate would soon take up measures to increase direct payments package to $2,000. It is yet uncertain what made Trump to make this sudden decision to sign the bill; however, as per some sources, he took his abrupt step under the intense pressure from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers who refused to agree with the change suggested.
Democrats Supported the Change
Although majority of the Republican lawmakers who dominated the Senate are expected to oppose Trump’s move, the Democrats are planning to vote in favor of measures to increase the payment to $2000. Mitch McConnell, a fellow Republican and leader of Senate Majority, thanked the president for his signature on the bill but denied to mention about the change of the plan or senate’s support of the legislation changed. Meanwhile, the Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Republicans to support the change in the bill by stating, “every Republican vote against this bill is a vote to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny the American people the relief they need.”
Observing the limited time Trump has, as he is leaving White House on January 20, 2021 and the Democratic President Joe Biden will take over as the 46th President of the US, the proposed change in the bill is very unlikely to happen. So, Democrats are now planning to take the matter after Biden comes into the office of President in January. Yet, the fate of Senate’s decision would depend on the outcome of the Georgia runoffs on January 5.
Key Provisions in the Economic Rescue Bill
Considering the adverse impact of the pandemic and the wide economic fallout, Trump opposed the bill arguing that the rescue packaged contained $1.4 trillion alone in spending to fund government agencies including foreign aid money. Similarly, several economists also agreed with Trump and suggested that the country needed a higher rescue budget to stimulate the ailing economy. Some of the lawmakers are in the opinion that the $900 billion coronavirus relief package is still inadequate and it requires more funds to boost the healthcare system and overall economy.
The current bill includes several key provisions for rescuing the overall economy besides the direct payment to individuals. Apart from $600 direct payments allotted to most individuals, it includes also $600 fund package for every child. The rescue measure allots a $300 per week for the unemployment group and some group of workers including freelancers are now included in the category of jobless Americans who can avail the benefits. To provide assistance to small businesses, the package offers a $284 billion in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans to help recover their loss during the pandemic. For airline industry, it allots a payroll assistance of $15 billion, which is a part of the overall transport aid relief of about $45 billion besides the allocation of $25 billion into rental assistance. Around $82 billion budget is located for reconstruction of higher education system and a $30 billion for the distributing of the Covid-19 vaccines. Besides aiming at free vaccine shots for every American, the measure has a provision for expanding the COVID-19 testing procedures by assigning over $20 billion funds. In a view to facilitate a good support for many small businesses, transport industry, and vaccine distribution procedures, the relief measure extends a moratorium on evictions that was set to expire on December 31.
Good News for Global Market
Following the adoption of the bill into a law, the news has brought a positive price result of the global market. According to Reuters, the US security exchange S&P futures and Japan’s Nikkei index reported market share gained; whereas, India’s NSE Nifty gained 0.90% market share on Sunday ends.
Meanwhile, Trump is relentlessly working on his conspiracy theory about the Presidential election in which he lost to Joe Biden. On the Sunday night after the bill was executed, Trump claimed that “Congress” promised to look into the matter of various allegations of widespread frauds that cost him the November 2020 election. On the contrary to his claim, many Republicans including McConnell have already accepted Biden as the next President of the States.