$600 stimulus checks to start arriving a few days after Christmas: Treasury secretary

Millions of Americans will see an extra $600 in their bank accounts a few days after Christmas, the Treasury secretary said Monday as Congress passed a nearly $1 trillion coronavirus relief package.
The $900 billion bill — which includes a $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans, extra unemployment benefits, funds for small businesses, states’ vaccine rollouts and more — was agreed to on Sunday and was passed by the House and Senate Monday night.
Lawmakers tacked on a $1.4 trillion catchall spending bill and thousands of pages of other end-of-session business in a massive bundle of bipartisan legislation as Capitol Hill prepared to close the books on the year. The bill goes to President Donald Trump for his signature, which is expected in the coming days.
Americans will begin to see the $600 stimulus check in their bank accounts starting next week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, calling the payments “much-needed relief just in time for the holidays.”
“This is a very, very fast way of getting money into the economy,” he said on CNBC.
“People go out and spend this money and that helps small businesses, and that helps getting more people back to work,” Mnuchin added.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the $600 payments are “just some of the aid that will be heading Americans’ way in a matter of hours.”
The pandemic relief package is also establishing a $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit for 11 weeks.
In addition, the bill will provide $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program to help hard-hit businesses. This will be “really important for restaurants,” Mnuchin said.
Another $82 billion is designated for local schools, colleges and universities, along with $22 billion to help states and local governments with COVID-19-related health expenses, like testing and vaccines.
“Today is a good day, but it is certainly not the end of the story,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “It cannot be the end of the story. Anyone who thinks this bill is enough doesn’t know what’s going on in America.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised that more help will be delivered once President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
“It is a first step,” she said. “We have to do more.”
Gov. Charlie Baker said the federal deal is “gratifying and a bit of a relief.”
“After months of uncertainty and challenging circumstances, this support is a welcome present for so many people here in Massachusetts and around the country who need it to help build the bridge between here and the successful implementation of a widespread, safe and effective vaccine,” Baker said at his Monday press conference.
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Others were critical of Republicans on Capitol Hill for not delivering direct fiscal relief to states and local governments in this package.
“This bill can’t be the final word,” said Michael Klein, professor of international economic affairs at The Fletcher School at Tufts University. “We’re a long way from being out of the woods, given the pandemic is still raging and widespread vaccinations are still a ways off.”
What’s in the $900 billion coronavirus relief package:

$600 direct stimulus payment for individuals making up to $75,000 per year
$1,200 direct stimulus payment to couples making up to $150,000. Payments will be phased out for higher incomes
An additional $600 payment will be made per dependent child
$300 per week bonus jobless benefit
The $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit will be limited to 11 weeks
$284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program for businesses
$82 billion for local schools, colleges and universities
$25 billion in rental assistance
$22 billion to help states and local governments with COVID-19 expenses, like testing and vaccines
$15 billion for live venues, movie theaters and cultural institutions
$14 billion for transit systems
$13 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
$10 billion for child care

Herald wire services were used in this report.

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