Congress voted Monday to authorize a second round of stimulus payments to households as part of its roughly $900 billion coronavirus relief legislation. President Trump had been expected to sign the legislation, but he criticized the deal Tuesday night and called on lawmakers to increase direct payments to Americans to $2,000 from $600. Here is what we know:
Will President Trump veto the legislation?
“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple,” Mr. Trump said in a tweeted video Tuesday night. The White House hasn’t said what Mr. Trump will do if Congress doesn’t meet that request. Some of the president’s aides said they viewed his resistance more as the president voicing his displeasure with the bill than an actual veto threat.
Will the second stimulus payments be delayed?
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday that the first batch of payments could go out at the beginning of next week. As of Wednesday, Treasury staff were still working to meet that time frame, and the department believes it can get money out the door quickly if a relief bill is signed into law by the president. But if Mr. Trump vetoes the legislation, which passed both chambers by veto-proof margins, Congress would need to either pass a new bill to meet his demand for larger stimulus checks or vote to override his veto. Most lawmakers left Washington for the holidays after the bill’s passage. If Mr. Trump doesn’t sign or veto the bill within 10 days after it is passed, it would become law without his signature, and the government could begin sending out checks.
The emerging agreement is expected to provide a $600 direct check to many Americans, $300 a week in enhanced federal unemployment benefits, as well as aid for schools, vaccine distribution and small businesses.
Scores of private charitable foundations, set up by some of the nation’s wealthiest people, received money from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, which was created last spring to save jobs at small businesses as the coronavirus tanked the economy.
NPR has identified at least 120 foundations that collectively received more than $7.5 million in PPP funding. That’s a small slice of the overall program, which disbursed about a half-trillion dollars, but some of the foundations are linked to individuals of considerable means: an oil magnate, a cable television tycoon, a dermatologist called the father of modern hair transplantation, and an aviation entrepreneur who founded companies with annual sales of more than a billion dollars.
Recipients also include the Walt Disney Family Foundation, the foundation of late celebrity photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and a foundation affiliated with multibillionaire investor Warren Buffett.
Private foundations appear to have been eligible for PPP funding because many of them have employees, and the program’s purpose was to protect jobs. But some nonprofit experts questioned the public perception of monied foundations, which have tax-exempt nonprofit status, being subsidized by U.S. taxpayers when they could have tapped their own assets to cover expenses.
Federal Reserve officials have something new to talk about at their policy meeting this week: good news.
This might sound a little absurd. Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths are hitting records. States and localities are imposing new restrictions on dining and other activities. Claims for unemployment benefits are rising, and the jobless rate fell in November for the wrong reasons—more workers stopped seeking jobs.
But last week’s emergency authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of a coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE , plus a second candidate from Moderna Inc. also under review, is a potential economic game-changer because it could reduce uncertainty for households, businesses and policy makers.
“There is a bridge to somewhere now. You’re no longer just putting fingers in a dike that’s about to burst,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at accounting firm Grant Thornton. “We still have a lot of wounds to dress. But now you can see an end date, and it’s likely to happen in 2021.”
Fed officials face an economic outlook with little precedent. Economic growth is at risk of slowing further in the next few months and then revving up. How to navigate these developments will be the focus of the central bankers’ two-day meeting that concludes Wednesday.TO READ THE FULL STORY.
U.S. stock futures rose on hopes for new fiscal stimulus.
A turnaround in technology stocks helped pull the main stock market gauges back into positive territory after they wobbled between small gains and losses for much of the morning.