New coronavirus relief bill saves unemployment benefits for 500k Pennsylvanians

Unemployment benefits for an estimated 500,000 Pennsylvanians will be saved after President Donald Trump announced Sunday night he will sign the $900B relief package.

Trump blindsided members of both parties and upended months of negotiations when he demanded last week that the package — already passed the House and Senate by large margins and believed to have Trump’s support — be revised to include larger relief checks and scaled-back spending. 

If Trump had continued his opposition, the federal government would have run out of money at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. 

MORE: Trump signs COVID relief bill granting stimulus checks, jobless benefits

For Pennsylvanians who have seen hours slashed or layoffs, the new relief bill couldn't have come soon enough. The battered restaurant business that is currently unable to provide indoor seating in the commonwealth is one industry that was hanging on federal aid.

"Having access to that extra money really means a lot for paying rent, especially with the holidays past," Ed Kieffer, a part-time server at Steam Pub in Southampton said. 

Steam Pub, celebrating its eighth year in business, has withstood many hardships the restaurant business has endured in 2020. At this time last year, the restaurant employed 70 people. This year, only 20 remain.

Not everyone will get a stimulus payment, but there are ways you can free up cash.

President Trump's eleventh-hour signature will now keep government employees working, unemployment benefits going for another 11 weeks, boosted $300 weekly, with most Americans also seeing a $600 check.  

"Everybody has bills to pay, it's like you're taking money out of all of our pockets," Glory Muthe said. "Cause I went from working five, six days a week to working one, maybe two days a week now."

While many Americans who have been put through the wringer by the pandemic are breathing a little easier tonight, the anxiety of waiting for the federal government to come together on a relief package is not forgotten.

"Just the ineptitude of our lawmakers right now is frustrating," Martin Hoeger said.

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