Today is the day many millions of Americans have long dreaded. It’s the day extended unemployment benefits lapse, meaning no more checks will be forthcoming in the near future.
The dreaded day arrives as the government is still struggling with exactly what, if anything, it will do to ease the predicament of people who have no jobs, no income, arrears in rent and mortgages, and creditors howling at the door.
Plans for $900 billion in pandemic relief funding were shot down earlier this week, just as previous attempts to push through $2.2 trillion and $1.8 trillion million in stimulus died on the partisan vine.
This latest round appeared close to being signed. A compromise bill that would have extended unemployment until March, added a federal stimulus of $300 per week, and sent $600 checks to eligible receivers was included in an overall government spending measure.
But that bill was rejected by President Trump, who called for an even greater amount of money to be sent to workers, asking for $2,000 per person instead of $600.
Even if another compromise is reached today, money will not be flowing soon. States would need time to calibrate their systems, and the clock would start running toward a March end for extended benefits, shortening the time left for desperate people to receive aid.
All of this is banking on a further rollout of vaccines restoring the economy and people’s faith going forward, something that’s not given.
President Trump’s weekend tweetstorm addressed his belief that more money was needed, and also called on trimming the foreign aid in other parts of the bill that he received on government funding.
The last hope for a compromise was ended on Christmas Eve, when the House shelved a measure for $2,000 in stimulus checks on a parliamentary procedure.
Now, with money running out and eviction protections also set to lapse at the end of the year, the immediate future looks grim for many.