BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Help is likely on the way for Americans struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, but while it covers a number of key priorities, some Maryland lawmakers and residents alike say it doesn’t go far enough.
Late on Monday, Congress approved a $900 billion relief bill that includes direct payments to Americans and expanded unemployment benefits. The bill now awaits President Donald Trump’s signature.
Tuesday evening, the president tweeted a roughly four-minute video in which he blasted parts of the bill, saying not enough money was going to small businesses and Americans in need.
“Despite all of this wasteful spending and much more, the $900 billion package provides hard-working taxpayers with only $600 each in relief payments and not enough money is given to small businesses and, in particular, restaurants, whose owners have suffered so grievously,” he said.
He also called on Congress to increase the $600 payments to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2020
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a Baltimore native, tweeted she was on board with the idea.
“Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks. At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 — Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it!” she wrote.
Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks. At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 — Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it! https://t.co/Th4sztrpLV
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) December 23, 2020
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said in a statement the latest bill “took much longer than it should have, and the delays were inexcusable.”
Still, “while it does not do enough, this bill delivers on a number of top Maryland priorities,” including vaccine distribution, rental assistance and K-12 education, he said.
After more than eight months of pushing to get this done, I am relieved that Congress has finally passed a COVID-19 relief bill to help struggling families and small businesses.
My full statement: pic.twitter.com/F6RjEwmAUU
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) December 22, 2020
On Tuesday, Maryland’s Democratic senators, Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, met with state legislators to discuss what the package means for Marylanders.
“This has been a long time coming, but it does provide critical relief at this moment for our country,” Van Hollen said. “It will get us through these tough winter months as we continue to fight the pandemic and try to make sure our economy can tread water but then get up and running to fuller steam in the weeks ahead.”
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The money is long overdue, even if the amount is underwhelming, a man named Troy told WJZ Tuesday.
“It’s a little disappointing as hard as we work,” he said.
Daniel Stebbins told WJZ he agrees the $600 payments aren’t enough.
“It’s just kind of a Band-Aid and you’re not really getting at the root of the economic hardships,” he said.
Lawmakers said Americans may begin to see the stimulus checks hit their bank accounts as soon as December 31.