PHOENIX - Millions of Americans, and Arizonans, are now without unemployment assistance after President Donald Trump did not sign a COVID-19 federal relief bill on Dec. 26.
Just a day later, Trump signed the bill, restoring benefits.
Trump took days to sign the bill because he doesn't agree with the $600 stimulus check allotted in the bill. He thinks it should be a $2,000 check, but an expert said if this bill wasn't signed, there will be extensive consequences for the state and the country because unemployment benefits wouldn't be extended.
He also demanded that "wasteful and unnecessary" spending – Trump specifically listed foreign aid to several countries, along with a few other line-items – be cut from the year-end spending package which lawmakers married to the coronavirus aid so it could all be passed in one vote.
Also to keep in mind, the US swears in a new Congress on Jan. 3, and if the bill is not signed by then, lawmakers will essentially have to restart the bill.
Impact on thousands of Arizonans
Research Director for the Grand Canyon Institute, Dave Wells, said that if Trump doesn't sign the bill by Saturday, about 130,000 Arizonans are not going to receive an extension of much-needed benefits.
The unemployment assistance officially ended at midnight on Sunday.
"Generally the people that are unemployed this time around are the lower wage folks as opposed to the last recession and as a consequence, they are often living paycheck to paycheck, many are beginning to fall behind on their rent payments," Wells explained.
Lawmakers could always try and provide a supplementary stimulus check to account for that additional $1,400 Trump is requesting, even if the bill was signed as-is Saturday, Wells says.
"There’s no reason they couldn’t later work on an additional $1,400 but they shouldn’t be holding up the whole bill for that," he explained.
Wells estimated that if the bill was not signed by Saturday, it’s going to cost the state and families about $65 million and have an economic impact over time of about $100 million.
"So it’s bad for everybody. It’s bad for the fold who don’t get assistance and it’s bad for the businesses of Arizona," Wells said.
For more information on the proposed bill, visit this link.