KILLEEN, TX — After sitting in stimulus limbo for a day, President Donald Trump signed the highly anticipated COVID-19 stimulus package, meaning unemployed Texans will see unemployment aid.
With millions of Texans still unemployed at the hands of the pandemic, many can breathe a sigh of relief knowing their benefits aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Jason Van Loo is among those struggling to pay bills after getting laid off by his corporate job.
“It’s been hard,” he said. “I’ve gone to where I’m donating plasma twice a week just to put a little extra food on the table to where we don't have to go into our bank account.”
His family is not the only one struggling due to the pandemic.
“We saw a gigantic spike in the time right after COVID-19,” said James Bernsen, the deputy communications director for the Texas Workforce Commission. “We had six years of unemployment claims in just a few months.”
After a week of hesitation, President Donald Trump signed a $900 billion stimulus package Sunday night, including an 11-week extension for unemployment claims, an additional $300 weekly unemployment bonuses and a $600 check for many Americans.
However, the president hesitated on signing the bill in an attempt to increase the stimulus check amount to $2,000.
On Monday, the House of Representatives voted to increase direct payments to most Americans from $600 to $2,000 per person. The bill, known as the CASH Act, now heads to the Senate.
“A lot of people think that $2,000 is too much per person or whatnot, but in these times it's very much needed,” Van Loo explained. “There’s a lot of people behind in bills and a lot of people can’t pay their rent or mortgages.”
Officials remind people that these benefits don’t last forever.
“It’s important to recognize that unemployment benefits are not permanent,” Bernsen said. “They’re a benefit to help people get through this difficult time and to move on and get back into the workforce.”
For people like Van Loo, he says $600 is better than nothing.
“Anybody out there that’s in the same boat I’m in... my prayers go out to everyone and prayers go out to myself,” he said. “Fingers crossed things get better in the next few months.”
Those at the Texas Workforce Solutions advise people that if they need help finding a job to reach out and utilize their many services including their virtual job fairs.