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House Passes Bill To Increase COVID-19 Relief Checks To $2K, But Marylanders Remain Fed Up With Political Process

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Help for Americans struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic is coming in the form of stimulus checks and loans for businesses, but the exact amount people will get remains uncertain.

President Donald Trump signed a massive economic relief package Sunday night despite voicing concerns the stimulus checks were insufficient, CBS News reported.

The bill Congress passed included stimulus checks of $600 -- which works out to $2,400 for a family of four -- for those making under $75,000, but the president called for that number to be increased to $2,000 for individuals or $4,000 for a couple. That bill also included protections for those facing eviction and a repeat of the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides help for struggling businesses.

Monday evening, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would do that, but it faces an uncertain future in the Senate, according to CBS News.

Democratic Maryland Rep. Kweisi Mfume urged the Senate and the president to pass the legislation.

"Too many Marylanders, who through no fault of their own, are struggling to stay afloat. The stimulus payment is a short-term fix, a drop in the bucket, and pales in comparison to the needs of struggling families. We must do more," he said in a statement. "I strongly urge President Trump and Senate Republicans to fight with us, not against us, to pass the $2000 stimulus bill. We cannot afford to wait."


Still, Marylanders who have watched the process play out remain fed up with the process.

"I think it was too little, too late," Richard Pazornak said.

"$600, that might pay a bill, two bills at the most," Baltimore resident Walter Williams said, "and [people] still have to live after that."

Trump waited several days to sign the original bill that passed in Congress days before Christmas because he wanted the higher stimulus check amounts.

Some said he waited too long to enter negotiations over the amount.

"It is better than nothing, but it's also a slap in the face," Pazornak said. "Average rents are $1,000 a month; $600 does nothing."

Gov. Larry Hogan tweeted he was "relieved that the COVID-19 relief bill is finally law," adding it "took much longer than it should have and much more still needs to be done."

Banks across the region are gearing up to accept another wave of PPP applications for small business loans that could eventually be forgiven.

"In the first round that small businesses who received the PPP considered it a lifeline," said Luke Bernstein, the executive vice president of Orrstown Bank. "We are much further down the road and so a second round of PPP is going to be very welcome news for many small businesses."

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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