Stimulus checks could come next week after House, Senate approve $900B bill

The United States Senate and House have agreed on a $900 billion stimulus bill to assist Americans and other businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, it means a bit more money in your account and it could arrive before the new year.

Congress passed the $900 billion pandemic relief package Monday night that finally delivers long-sought cash to businesses and individuals and resources to vaccinate a nation confronting a frightening surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

The relief package, unveiled Monday afternoon, sped through the House and Senate in a matter of hours. The Senate cleared the massive package by a 91-7 vote after the House approved the COVID-19 package by another lopsided vote, 359-53. The tallies were a bipartisan coda to months of partisanship and politicking as lawmakers wrangled over the relief question, a logjam that broke after President-elect Joe Biden urged his party to accept a compromise with top Republicans that is smaller than many Democrats would have liked.

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It would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and a $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans, along with a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants, and theaters and money for schools, health care providers and renters facing eviction.

How much will you get? It largely depends on your income and family size. 

American adults who earn less than $75,000 will receive the full $600 check, while couples who earn less than $150,000 will receive $1,200. The payments will be tapered for higher-earners (5% of the amount by which their adjusted gross incomes exceeded the initial threshold) and phased out completely for individuals who earn more than $99,000 and couples who earn more than $198,000. Dependents under the age of 17 are also eligible for $600 payments, according to FOX Business.

When will you get it? Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke to CNBC on Monday, saying the first payments should go out before the end of the year once Trump signs off on the bill. However, it could take longer for all eligible citizens to receive their money.

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"The good news is this is a very, very fast way of getting money into the economy. Let me emphasize: People are going to see this money at the beginning of next week," Mnuchin told the network.

On the same day, the Michigan House and Senate approved a $465 million relief package with a big emphasis on small business grants. Up to $20,000 in grants will go to businesses completely closed with other specific grants for individuals who’ve lost their jobs because of state COVID orders. 

The bill will head to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for approval.

"I’m pretty convinced that she is going to support this, I mean we’ve got to get the resources and the funds out there," said Rep. Christine Greig, House Democratic leader. "Could we do more? Absolutely but we are going to need the federal government to be our partner with that."

Other key elements include money for communities to deliver and administer Covid vaccines, more PPE, and other layers of protection for frontline workers.

The money will come out of the general fund, for now, it's possible federal money will replenish that when the feds figure out its pandemic package. 

Money could start getting doled out as early as next month.

It's going to help people like Steve Klein, who wrote an obituary for his bowling alley in Westland last week. On Monday, his business was allowed to reopen but without concessions. 

That didn't stop his patrons.

"We had a line at the door and at midnight, they were able to bowl and they were excited," Klein said.

The reopening comes as state officials allow casinos, movie theaters and bowling alleys to reopen their doors starting December 21st after the State lifted some of its COVID-19 restrictions from a second shutdown. The last order was put in place on November 15th.

"The concern is will they come in," he said. "We don't know about the cash flow revenue. I haven't paid my mortgage for this month, yet."
Klein wrote an obituary for his dying business after he said it was crippled from weeks of government shutdowns 

"I've lost about $200,000," he said.

Shortly after, a GoFundMe was started and has raised $30,000.

Klein's business isn't the only one reopening. The owner of Emagine Theaters said the chain is using the first two days of business to deep clean and communicate with employees before doors officially open on Wednesday.

"(We'll be) refreshing our teammates on all safety protocols," Paul Glantz said. "We’ll set up the software so you’re at least 7 feet apart from unaffiliated parties."

But, like bowling alleys, concessions will be closed. While that's a big source of revenue for theaters, Glantz is trying to take an optimistic approach.

"We’re looking at this as a glass half full," Glantz said. "Getting our guests back in and getting to serve them, is paramount to us."

He said reopening in time for the holidays, even if the profits are low, is very important to Emagine and expects that the people will return.

"We are going to have a ramp-up period where folks realize it’s safe and tell their friends," Glantz said. "I see our business building back slowly back steady for the next six to eight months."