Historic $2.2 Trillion Stimulus Measure Becomes Law, Checks of $1,200 to Individuals Expected to Begin Rolling Out Within Weeks

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Congress and President Donald Trump have enacted a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill in response to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.

Individuals are due up to $1,200 and couples are expected to receive up to $2,400 — plus $500 per qualifying children under 17 — under the near 880-page Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act Trump signed into law Friday afternoon.

Although help is needed immediately, it will likely take about three weeks before the first payments start going out, CNN reports.

Payments start phasing out for individuals with adjusted gross incomes of more than $75,000. The amount would then be reduced by $5 for every additional $100 of adjusted gross income. Individuals with AGIs of at least $99,000 would not receive anything.

Income would generally be based on one’s 2019 or 2018 tax returns. Those who made too much to qualify in those years but see their income fall in 2020 would receive a tax credit when they file their return next year, according to the Senate Finance Committee.

Those who make more in 2020 than in 2019 would not have to pay any stimulus money they receive back if they end up exceeding the thresholds. Payments would not be subject to tax, and those who owe back taxes would still get a check.

Funds authorized by the CARES Act are to be deposited directly into individuals’ bank accounts, as long as they’ve authorized the IRS to send their tax refund that way over the past two years. Those who haven’t already given the IRS that authorization would receive their checks in the mail.

Social Security Insurance (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) also are eligible for the $1,200 payments. Individuals who are claimed as dependents on someone else’s tax returns would not receive a check, even if they are adults.

The bill also bolsters unemployment benefits, which will be administered by states. Benefits will take at least several weeks, but would vary based on where you live.

Congress will also create a new pandemic unemployment assistance program, which would allow many more Americans to qualify for benefits. The program will be modeled on existing disaster unemployment assistance program, so it would likely take even longer for jobless Americans who fall into this category to start receiving benefits, particularly in states that haven’t faced disasters recently.

The House earlier in the day approved the bill that passed the Senate earlier this week, overcoming by using an unusual procedural move to thwart a demand by Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky

Shortly before the House vote Friday Massie said he planned to try to force a recorded vote on the legislation, arguing that House members should have to go on the record like the Senate did.

Democratic and Republican leaders suspected Massie would try to force the recorded vote, and by late Thursday House members were advised to return to Washington for Friday’s vote. 

Members then raced to get back to Washington, amid the pandemic, and denied Massie’s attempt to force the roll-call vote. 

Trump criticized Massie in a pair of tweets stating that he “just wants the publicity” and should be thrown out of the Republican party.

“Looks like a third rate Grandstander named @RepThomasMassie, a Congressman from, unfortunately, a truly GREAT State, Kentucky, wants to vote against the new Save Our Workers Bill in Congress. He just wants the publicity. He can’t stop it, only delay, which is both dangerous & costly,” Trump tweeted.

As large as the economic relief package is, it might not be enough to rescue the foundering economy. Last week a record 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits. The previous record was 695,000 in 1982.

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