According to USA Today, on February 14th, the IRS announced that it completed the distribution of the second rounds of stimulus checks approved by the Trump administration. The government issues stimulus checks during times of economic hardship to members of a nation. The first round of stimulus checks was sent out in mid-April last year, consisting of a mere $1,200, and the most recent one providing an additional $600.
Last year, about a month into the pandemic while we were all enjoying the few extra weeks of break, Wall Street fell, and unemployment skyrocketed. As a result, millions of Americans struggled with rent, mortgages, food, and other bills. Unlike with the Trump administration, Biden and his cabinet are pushing to get Americans what they should have gotten over nine months ago. At the same time, it is also difficult to overlook all of the damage that Trump left behind.
For most last year, Congress and the Senate debated how much money should be sent out, when it should be sent out, and whom the bill should include. Furthermore, these debates would continue for months, and whenever it seemed as though they were close to passing a bill, something would not be quite right. Meanwhile, the people who did not have the luxury to leave discussions about another stimulus check at work were struggling to make ends meet and forced to decide between paying rent and buying food.
Recognizing that the first stimulus check could only be stretched so far, Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris promised a plan to help all Americans during this time of immense uncertainty. With Biden’s relief plan, Americans would see an additional $1,400 on top of their $600 stimulus check earlier this year. This round of stimulus checks would also include individuals who were left out of previous checks, such as households with mixed immigration status and eligible children over seventeen. According to the New York Times, Biden is also asking Congress to extend emergency unemployment insurance programs set to expire in March until September, and include an extra $400 per week to help “hard hit workers.” Biden’s budget proposal also includes allocating $160 billion to national vaccination programs and any other efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
After a nearly fifteen-hour voting session, Senate lawmakers agreed to support the bill. This support, however, does not come without its contingencies. Although this bill will move to Congress, where Democrats do not need Republican support, the plea for raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour is missing. Towards the end of the debate, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders eloquently and painfully said, “We end this debate in a moment in which our country faces more crises, more pain, more anxiety than any time since the Great Depression. But we have the opportunity to give hope to the American people and restore faith in our government by telling them that tonight we understand the pain that they are experiencing and we are going to do something very significant about it.”
Despite the difference between Trump and Biden in leadership being stark, the effects of Trump’s administration of lack thereof remain prominent. Millions of Americans are still unemployed, facing evictions, growing piles of debt, hunger, and much much more. One question that stays on my mind is if this stimulus will be one of many or another one of promise.