News on nationwide COVID stimulus relief looked promising when both the US House and Senate passed a $900B economic relief package on the Monday before Christmas. The package included general relief such as $600 stimulus checks for individuals, $284B to recharge the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan program for small businesses and a target of $15B set aside in emergency relief for in-person entertainment venues such as movie theatres and live music halls. This last amount offered was in response to the “Save our Stages” lobbying campaign championed by NATO and should provide much-needed support for independent theatres. The Independent Cinema Alliance estimates without this additional government support 70% of all independent theatres are at risk of closing permanently in 2021. However, President Trump threw a wrench into the works by calling the relief package a “disgrace” and threatening to veto the entire bill unless the number of direct payments to individuals was increased to $2,000. As of this writing, it is still unclear how this plays out, though most expect some version of the bill will be cleared eventually.
See also: House Efforts to Alter Coronavirus Package Fail, Leaving Aid in Limbo (Wall Street Journal)