NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — President Donald Trump has yet to sign off on the COVID relief bill, creating a ripple effect that could shut down the government and leave millions without money.
It’s estimated about 12 million Americans could lose their unemployment benefits Saturday. That is money that could be used to support struggling restaurants and nearby businesses.
It’s money out-of-work Broadway sound engineer Wallace Flores is running out of.
“I am coming to the end of all of that,” Flores told CBS2’s Cory James.
The unsigned COVID relief bill leaves millions of others like Flores in need of financial help.
“You’re playing games with lives, with human lives, and that’s not fair. That’s not fun,” Flores said.
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The financial crisis for millions of Americans is hanging high, but on the ground, people in Brooklyn are hitting the streets, demanding the president sign the latest $900 billion coronavirus stimulus plan.
“There’s pain and despair right now. There’s loss and there’s confusion,” one speaker at Saturday’s protest said.
Some of that confusion is growing days after Congress passed the COVID relief bill. It would give those hit hard by the pandemic $600.
Trump is challenging that amount, hoping to offer more.
“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple,” the president said earlier this week.
“Believe it or not, Democrats agree with the president, at least to the extent that we need to sign this bill now,” Rep. Steny Hoyer said.
STIMULUS CHECK LATEST (12/24): $2,000 Relief Payments Blocked By House Republicans
The hold-off is putting people like Frank Acri in a deeper hole. The Staten Island landlord says his tenants are extremely behind on rent.
“Come January, I’m due $27,000, which I don’t have,” he said. “There is plenty of people who do need help.”
That includes struggling restaurant workers who believe the bill is a two-way street.
“That would help us,” restaurant manager Manuel Cicle said. “They give this money for people to spend to keep the economy running.”
That approved bill has been flown to Florida, where the president is spending the holidays, in case he decides to sign it.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, however, met with the president on Christmas Day and tweeted, “I am convinced he is more determined than ever to increase stimulus payments,” adding in part, “I hope Congress is listening.”
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In the meantime, House Democrats say Monday, they will hold a full vote on the proposal for $2,000 payments, money some believe may still not be enough.
“Whatever they decide, if they decide, it’s not going to be much. It’s not going to be a lot. It’s going to be gone right away,” a speaker at Saturday’s protest in Brooklyn said.
Gone is the patience of many people, who fear what will happen once their pandemic relief expires.
If the president does not sign the current bill, there could be a federal government shutdown by midnight on Monday.
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