Businesses eagerly wait for help as COVID relief remains in limbo

Some Californians may no longer be receiving unemployment checks.

For others, those checks are going to be smaller, unless a government aid bill gets signed by the president, or Congress quickly works out a compromise.

This is happening because the economic stimulus package approved by Congress has not been signed by President Donald Trump.

The president says he’s holding out for a bigger check for Americans. He wants $2000 instead of the $600 that’s already been approved by Congress, for every qualifying adult.

In the meantime, people are desperately waiting for economic relief, and the government is on the verge of shutting down.

MORE: Calif. small businesses, nonprofits can apply for grants up to $25K next week

Malaya Botanicals, an Alameda business specializing in CBD products, is one of many businesses eagerly awaiting an opportunity for economic stimulus.

The owner says she’s looking forward to an opportunity to apply for a PPP loan, and a partner says their out-of-work customers need cash to be able to buy their products.

"They’re the ones who help us keep open, so if this doesn’t go through.  If the business loans don’t go through, then I don’t know where we’re going to be," said Rolando Martin, with Malaya Botanicals.

Experts say about 1.2 million Californians are currently receiving regular unemployment benefits.

While unemployed W2 workers will continue getting state unemployment, minus the $300 additional pay from federal economic stimulus, there’s another group of about 400,000 whose pay is in jeopardy, according to the former director of California’s Employment Development Department.

"It’s the people who are independent contractors and collecting under a separate program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program.  This is a program that was established by The Cares Act," said Michael Bernick, Employment Attorney with Duane Morris LLP.

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Bernick says, with so much at stake, he’s confident the issue will somehow be resolved soon.

But a fellow from Washington’s public policy think tank,The Century Foundation, isn’t so optimistic, fearing this could potentially drag into the Biden administration.

"If we don’t take action on it, really by, in my view, Monday, then we are going to have to envision starting over from scratch, which could take a significant amount of time," said Senior Fellow, Andrew Stettner, with The Century Foundation.

The President tweeted Saturday, "I simply want to get our great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill."

President-elect Biden issued a statement saying, in part, "millions of families don’t know if they’ll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign an economic relief bill."

MORE: ‘This bill is critical’: Biden pushes Trump to sign COVID-19 relief bill

What was thought to be a done deal, has become a political tug of war, with desperately needed aid in limbo, stuck in the middle.

"Rental protections, money for testing and treatment, money for schools to open safely.  We can’t be dabbling and waiting around on this," said Stettner.

The bill also includes $1.4 trillion to keep the government running.

Unless action is taken soon, government funding will run out at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

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