Second stimulus check news summary on 21 December: amount, dates, voting in Senate...

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Second stimulus check live online updates: amount, dates, voting in Senate, latest news

Coronavirus and stimulus relief bill updates: 21 December

The bill passes

...but not everyone voted for it.

Will I be eligible for the second stimulus check if I got the first?

Congress has passed another round of coronavirus relief aid including a second round of stimulus checks that will go to most American families. Not everyone that received the first $1200 check will be eligible for the new $600 payment. However some Americans that missed out the first time around, those people have been included and will be retroactively eligible for the first payment.

Read more:

Senate passes $900 billion stimulus package

The Senate approved the bill by a 91-7 vote. The legislation will now head over to the White House for the President's signature to make it law. Trump has said that he will sign the bill giving $600 stimulus checks to eligible Americans. The bill also includes extended $300 per week in enhanced unemployment benefits as well as other measures to help struggling Americans.

Biden names new members to economic team 

President-elect Joe Biden has named new members to the National Economic Council which will be led by Brian Deese a former member of the Obama administration.  

Bharat Ramamurti, a former adviser to Senator Elizabeth Warren has been named to join President-elect Joe Biden’s economic team as Deputy Director for Financial Reform and Consumer Protection on the council. He currently sits on the congressional commission overseeing covid-19 relief funding.  

David Kamin will serve as Deputy Director and Joelle Gamble as a Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy.

Restaurants get some relief in stimulus bill 

The restaurant industry pushed unsuccessfully to get $120 billion in aid to help mom-and-pop locations. The industry has seen revenue drop by $130 billion compared to 2019. The final legislation agreed to by the top four congressional leaders from both parties improved the formula for restaurants when applying for loans from the Paycheck Protection Program. The new bill will increase the multiplier for restaurants and hotels to 3.5 from 2.5 of the average monthly payroll costs.

House approves $2.3 trillion bill

The omnibus spending bill has cleared the first hurdle passed in the House of Representatives in two separate votes 327-85 and 359-53. The bill finances the government through September 2021 and provides a new round of pandemic relief aid, including a $600 direct payment. The bills must now pass the Senate before it can go to President Trump to be made law.

Energy Bill included in must-pass legislation 

US Senators Joe Manchin’s and Lisa Murkowksi’s Energy Act of 2020 has been included in the must-pass legislation that will be considered in the House and Senate starting today. The bill looks to modernize the US energy sector through investing in research and development of cleaner sources of energy production and energy efficiency. At the same time the bill looks keep energy costs affordable in a future where demand will increase by 50 percent.

Are children born in 2020 and 2021 eligible for the second stimulus check?

Congress is expected to pass the covid-19 economic relief bill including a $600 direct payment per child before they go home for Christmas. New parents however may not receive their entitled benefits automatically.

Read more to find out how to get the payment:

Copyrights and Hollywood tax deductions in omnibus bill 

The behemoth of a bill that Congress needs to pass to keep the government running and get Americans pandemic relief has some other measures tucked into it. Among those are laws related to copyright protections including one that would make illegal streaming for commercial profit a felony. Hollywood would get an extension of a tax deduction for television and film production costs up to $15 million.

Wider funding is included in the stimulus bill

While the $600 direct payments have received much of the attention the 5,593-page legislative package actually includes a variety of bills. For example there are 12 federal government funding bills that have to be passed before the end of the year to avoid a government shutdown. 

Also included is the end to two highly controversial public policies that were introduced in the 1990s. The House is expected to vote on the package this evening, although it will be split into two sections. 

Will the House pass the stimulus bill?

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the covid-19 economic relief bill this evening, the first of two criticial votes in Congress. After months of talks and a Congressional extension in recent days, is there any chance that the House will vote against the bill?

When will the stimulus checks arrive?

With the President expected to sign the new coronavirus relief bill in the coming days, perhaps even hours, there is the chance that some of the early payments to Americans could be received before the end of the year

Direct debit payments were the first to be sent during the first wave of stimulus checks and Rep. Kevin Brady believes that will be the same again this time. 

Want to know more about when to expect your stimulus check? Our handy guide breaks down the five stimulus check payment groups.

AOC hits out at border wall funding during an economic crisis

While Congress has been slow to approve a second round of stimulus checks (finally settling on $600 per person, after months of negotiation) Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez points out that funding was seemingly easier to find for Trump's border wall. 

AOC describes the project as a "xenophobic campaign stunt wall that falls down in the wind", arguing that the money would have been better spent on beefing up the covid-19 stimulus package. 

Coronavirus stimulus/federal funding package to be divided into two votes

With Congress clearly pushed for time to get essential pieces of legislation passed as quickly as possible, a number of different bills have been wrapped together in a far-reaching package

As well as the $900bn covid relief bill there are also 12 vital federal spending bills and dozens of other pieces of legislation that need to be passed before Congress breaks for Christmas. Assuming that it all passes the House of Representatives when they vote this evening, the two bills will then be reunited and presented to the Senate as one. 

"Barely a glance at the fine print"

Some are worried that Congress is not being given sufficient time to scrutinise the new stimulus bill due to the rush to get it signed. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has already spoken out about the haste with which this is being pushed through, arguing (quite rightly) that 5,593 pages can not be read in a day. 

Sanders unhappy with $600 stimulus checks

The bill that Congress is set to vote on includes direct payments of just $600 per person, half of what was provided by the CARES Act back in March. The Republican-led Senate was unwilling to agree to anything more substantial but lifelong progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders has spoken out on his belief that more support needs to be offered.

Earlier today he tweeted: "The COVID-relief bill that Congress will vote on today will help many, but goes nowhere near far enough. The Biden Administration, on day 1, must bring forth a major economic relief bill that addresses the severe economic pain of working families— including more direct payments."

Full detail of the coronavirus stimulus bill is now available online

Anyone wanting to really dig into the detail can now access the whole stimulus bill online, all 5,593 pages of it!

These types of bills are usually pretty lengthly but this one is an absolute monster. If you're wondering why, this package is what's known as an omnibus. This means that it contains all 12 federal spending bills, the $900bn covid relief package, and dozens of other bills that need to be passed before Congress breaks for the final time this year.

 

When will Congress vote on the stimulus bill?

The $900 billion package that has been agreed includes elements such as direct payments to lower-income Americans and it also provides enhanced payments to those people who find themselves unemployed, as the impact of the pandemic pushed unprecedented numbers into this situation.

The first vote in Congress will take place in the House of Representatives. The members will begin to consider the package from around 9am Eastern Time when they are scheduled to convene. They will then vote at around 8-9pm ET, with the Senate expected to pick up the matter with a vote early Tuesday morning.

The expectation from both parties is that this bill will pass with no difficulties, at which point it will arrive on the desk of lame duck President Donald Trump to sign into law.

How will the new stimulus check payments be made?

Today Congress votes on the new coronavirus economic relief bill which will provide a $600 direct payment to every eligible American. But with over 160 million payments to be made, how does the IRS plan to send the money?

AOC unhappy with rushed vote on bipartisan relief bill

After so many months of ineffectual negotiations things are going to go down the wire to get the bill passed before Christmas. With voting to commence today lawmakers will not be able to read all 5593 pages, as they usually would. 

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez goes on to call this "not good enough":

"It’s not good enough to hear about what’s in the bill. Members of Congress need to see & read the bills we are expected to vote on. I know it’s “controversial” & I get in trouble for sharing things like this, but the people of this country deserve to know. They deserve better."

Pelosi: "Stimulus checks will be going out soon"

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has confirmed that the direct payment will be on their way to Americans soon but admitted that she would have favoured a larger amount. The CARES Act provided $1,200 to each individual but the new package only ensures half of that amount. 

We have movement!

After technical difficulties the completed stimulus bill has now been successfully codified and printed off. There will now be Congressional sessions to vote on the package but it is thought that the agreement is already in place. 

Also, there's not much chance of lawmakers reading the whole thing through before it goes to the floor. Coming in at a whopping 5593 pages, you would have to read 560 pages an hour to finish it before midnight

Technical issues slowing things down, say reports

After waiting months Americans will be hoping that this process can be brought to a swift finale but computer difficulties are causing problems in Congress. Reporter Jake Sherman of MSNBC and NBC has revealed that the bill can not currently be uploaded due a "corrupt file" in part of the bill. 

Mnuchin: Stimulus checks will arrive from next week

Trump's Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, has told an interview with CNBC that the second round of stimulus checks will begin distribution from the start of next week. The $600 per person checks will be issued to anyone earning less than $75,000-a-year. 

"I expect we will get the money out by the beginning of next week," he said. "It's much needed relief, just in time for the holidays".

Stimulus checks a late addition to the relief bill

While there has been some disappointment over the size ($600 per person) of the direct payments offered in this new package it should be pointed out that even this is an improvement. Previous iterations of the bipartisan bill did not include any stimulus checks. 

The House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act many months ago which included $1,200 checks but that piece of legislation was thrown out of the Senate. The extension to the pre-Christmas Congressional session has allowed the two sides to find a compromise. 

Second stimulus check: who has to sign it? Donald Trump or Joe Biden?

Republicans and Democrats have finally come to an agreement after months of failed negotiations. The new legislation will include $600 stimulus checks, $300 weekly federal unemployment benefits, small business aid, and funds for universities and schools.

Stimulus payments of $600 with a federal unemployment benefit of $300

On Sunday, congressional leaders in both parties announced an agreement to provide a round of $600 stimulus payments to most Americans and partly restore the enhanced federal unemployment benefit, offering $300 for 11 weeks.

The legislative package hasn’t been completed but combined with a few other relief measures, it will provide welcome, albeit temporary, assistance to many. And how quickly the money reaches your pocket will depend on several factors.

The New York Times has taken a closer look at what the latest legislative package will mean for you. 

When the stimulus payment could arrive

Things to note:

- as before, those people with bank account details on file will receive a direct deposit

- for those with no info on record, paper checks or prepaid debit cards will be issued

- earliest payments expect first payments in early January

Reaching the deal

As we await progress on the debate from the House floor, we share a piece by North Jersey's Mike Kelly who reflects on how an agreement was finally achieved.

'Sometimes law-making in Congress seems as easy as boiling water. You fill the pot, turn on the gas and calmly wait a few minutes for the bubbles. 

That’s not what happened with the $900 billion covid-19 relief package that was patched together over the weekend by Congressional bipartisan leaders such as Rep. Josh Gottheimer, the Wyckoff, New Jersey, Democrat and co-chair of the House Problem Solvers Caucus.

This bill was more like making sausage.'

House in recess

There's a break on as we await the debate and vote on the relief package in the Capitol.

The year of media industry layoffs

'There was a time, just a few years ago, that we grimly thought of as layoff seasonin newsrooms. It was in the fall, ahead of budget projections for the next year. But they happened at other times, too. Sometimes they were huge. Some are memorable for their short-sightedness, like cutting an entire photo staff. Others for how they pierced hope for something new. And, maddeningly, many were notable for their sameness — caused by pivots to video or legacy revenue declines or consolidation.

For the past decade, layoffs have been a fact of life for American journalism, particularly newspapers. Between 2008 and 2019, newspaper staffs shrunk by 51%, according to Pew.

Then, the pandemic hit.'

Read the thoughts of Kristen Hare.

Stimulus linked to Georgia vote

Congressman Sean Caston is not the first to point to the importance of the Georgia run-off election to the whole of the United States and how this bill, although disappointing to some, is only part of a longer term plan.

It's not as big a relief package as the Democrats pushed through the House in June - blocked by Republicans - but, Casten suggests, will help get some people through to the beginning of next year when Joe Biden, potentially with the strength of Congress behind him, can fully support the nation.

Can stimulus package save nursing home residents in Virginia?

Coronavirus vaccinations are finally being given in Virginia, as nursing-home deaths from the virus reached record highs and staff shortages continue to climb.

David DeBiasi, advocacy director for AARP Virginia, said since the pandemic began, nursing homes account for 32% of all covid-19 deaths in Virginia, but represent only about 3% of total cases. Even before the Thanksgiving surge in cases, he noted nursing-home deaths from mid-October to mid-November were almost one per 100 Virginia residents, the highest rate since the federal government began collecting information.

"We need to advance a transformation and modernization of the nation's long-term care system," DeBiasi argued. "We're trying to call attention to it through this dashboard that we just released. Our analysis shows that we're in trouble."

Full report below:
 

When will Congress decide?

With an agreement in place on a much-needed coronavirus relief package, Motoday will see voting take place in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

We'll be keeping you updated as soon as news breaks.

New coronavirus strain hits stocks despite new bill

US stock index futures tumbled on Monday as fears over a new strain of the coronavirus that has shut down much of Britain overshadowed a $900 billion stimulus package deal.

The strain, which is said to be up to 70% more transmissible than the original, forced major European countries to shut their borders with the UK and sowed fears of further economic disruptions.

Travel stocks fell in premarket trading, with Delta Air Lines Inc, United Airlines Holdings Inc and American Airlines Group Inc slumping between 4.8% and 5.3%. Cruise operators Royal Caribbean Cruises, Carnival Corp and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings fell between 8.4% and 9.5%.

The CBOE Volatility Index, also known as Wall Street's 'fear gauge', jumped 29.7 points to its highest level since early November.

Why did it take so long?

The aid passed by Congress during the early days of the coronavirus outbreak is set to expire at the end of this year, less than two weeks from now.

As lawmakers prepare to make a final decision on a new relief package today, NBC’s Garrett Haake took a closer look at why it has taken elected officials so long to address the ongoing crisis.

Biden-Harris team bill statement

'I [Joe Biden] applaud the bipartisan Congressional economic relief package that will deliver critical resources to fight covid-19, including funding for vaccine distribution, and much needed temporary relief for workers, families, and small businesses.

"In November, the American people spoke clearly that now is a time for action and compromise. I am heartened to see members of Congress heed that message, reach across the aisle, and work together. This is a model for the challenging work ahead for our nation."

Read the full statement below:

A step forward, but not nearly enough

Senator from Missouri, Josh Hawley, was another to explain the need for putting the American worker first.

'More help is on the way'

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell posted this tweet after the agreement was reached. As you've seen from the comments below, it doesn't feel like a huge relief to many millions of Americans.

$900 billion relief bill: what's in, what's not?

Sunday 20 December saw the US Congress finally reach agreement on a coronavirus aid package, which is tied to a larger government spending bill.

Ahead of today's vote, here's a summary of what you are likely to see approved...

Who could get second stimulus check: requirements and eligibility

While eligibility requirements for the new $600 stimulus check have yet to be confirmed, reports indicate that they will be the same or similar to those for the first round of stimulus payments. Read more...

Twitter filling up with memes, sarcasm and ironic tweets regarding stimulus check

It's fair to say many people on the Twittersphere are not happy with the 50% reduction in value of the stimulus check payment, including Lavern Spencer, the founder of Miami-Dade-based charity Curley's house...

32,000 furloughed airline staff could be back at work thanks to new bill  

According to several reports, the new bill could see $15 billion handed to airlines, but on the condition that they call back more than 32,000 workers who were furloughed this fall.

Airlines received $25 billion in payroll support under the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March.

$15bn for music venues, movie theatres and cultural institutions

The live music industry has been one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic. So Congress' move to specially allocate $15bn for venues, movie theatres and cultural institutions as part of the $325bn for small business loans will be welocmed by the industry. Though many insiders are likely to complain that the money is a mere drop in the ocean.

Trump

Trump wanted to see Americans receive up to $2,000 stimulus checks

While Donald Trump is expected to sign the $900 billion bill into law once it passes Congess this Monday, the President himself is disappointed that lawmakers could not agree to a larger stimulus check than $600 one that has been agreed under the new package.

Trump said he wanted the payments to be "at least" $1,200 and perhaps as large as $2,000, according to The Washington Post. Business Insider reports that "White House aides reportedly talked Trump out of asking for $2,000 direct payments for Americans, for fear it could disrupt negotiations between Democrats and Republicans."

"We are the shame and laughing stock of the world": Celebrities react to $600 stimulus check

The number of people airing their grievances on Twitter about the $600 stimulus check continues to grow, which includes famous personalities such as actors Sebastian Roche and Alyssa Milano. 

"Once again we are the shame and laughing stock of the world," said Roche when retweeting a tweet from Milano.

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP

In pictures: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speak after a press conference on Capitol Hill on December 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate finally came to an agreement on the coronavirus relief bill and a vote is expected on Monday. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP)

$166bn Stimulus check spend worth less than Bezos, Zuckerburg and Musk net worth

Journalist David Sirota puts things in perspective: "The stimulus bill spends $166 billion for meager $600 survival checks as America faces mass starvation and poverty. That’s less than the estimated $200 billion increase in the net worth of Bezos, Musk & Zuckerberg during the pandemic."

Twitter reacts to $600 stimulus checks

While the fact that the new stimulus check is half the amount of the previous $1,200 is a serious and bitter disappointment for many Americans, some have reacted to the news with humour as Twitter fills with stimulus check-related memes...

How much money would go to children and how much to adults?

After months of talks Congress is close to passing a new coronavirus financial relief bill. But with Americans struggling to make ends meet as the economy continues to suffer, how much will the average family receive? AS writer Will Gittins has more...

Poll shows voters overwhelming in favour of $1,200 stimulus check

On the day before Congress agreed to a bill that included $600 stimulus checks, a poll by Data for Progress revealed that voters are overwhelmingly in favor of a $1,200 payment. 88% of those polled said that they wanted Congress to approve another $1,200 check.

Americans label $600 stimulus check "a disgrace" but better than nothing

Many Americans have expressed their disappointment and anger regarding the new $600 stimulus payment, but it also comes as a relief too many, who have said that it is better then nothing.

Faith Crockett, 27, told CNBC that the $600 check is "a disgrace."  

"Above all else, it shows us in our darkest moments, our political leaders show no compassion and give us little hope," she added.

California resident, Laney Oden, 32, who lost her restaurant job after 11 years back in March, said the $600 check is better than nothing.

"The $600 would do great for now, but some will have to spend that already before it even hits their bank account. I think a little more would be appropriate, but we will take anything at this rate."

 

Smaller stimulus check but more for dependents

A stimulus check for a maximum of $600 would represent a 50% reduction on the amount paid out in the first round of direct payments earlier this year, which saw Americans receive up to $1,200 as part of the CARES Act, a $2.2tn relief bill signed into law at the end of March.

It is anticipated that the income threshold for the $600 stimulus checks will be the same as the requirements laid out in the CARES Act. This means that the full amount will again go to those earning under $75,000 a year, while a gradually smaller amount will be paid out to people with an annual income up to a final phase-out limit of $99,000.

Much smaller package

This new package is much smaller than the first $2.2 trillion cares act that passed in March, but does include:

- $600 direct payments

- $300 weekly enhanced unemployment benefits

- loans for small businesses

Good morning

Good morning and welcome to our live blog this Monday, 21 December. We'll be bringing you live updates throughout the day after Congress finally reached a deal on a new $900 billion economic stimulus package after months of impasse. 

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