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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

GOP COVID relief bill fails in Senate: Next steps for stimulus check and package

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The stimulus bill could still be rescued — we just have to wait and see.

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Angela Lang

The GOP-authored “skinny” $500 billion coronavirus bill failed to pass the Senate in a 52-47 vote Thursday, which raises the question, “what now?” A month after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s self-imposed Aug. 7 deadline to pass a new stimulus bill buckled in negotiations, the federal government isn’t much closer to securing funding for a second stimulus check and other critical coronavirus relief programs.

Despite the failure of the “skinny” bill, both sides expressed optimism ahead of the vote of an eventual agreement.

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“I’m more optimistic today than I have been in a long time,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Tuesday. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Wednesday he believes there’s a “good chance” a bipartisan COVID relief bill will pass, Reuters reported.

The White House has hinted it could go up to $1.5 trillion while the Democrats have come down from their initial $3 trillion proposal to $2.2 trillion, so there has been incremental progress. Both sides are under increasing pressure to produce more aid in the lead up to November’s presidential election. We have identified five scenarios that could play out in that near term.

A series of small bills could pass

Called the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act, the Senate’s narrower proposal now will not become law. But it does suggest a path forward that delivers coronavirus aid in chunks, possibly sidestepping the partisan flare-ups that have plagued this new stimulus legislation, which has dragged on for over a month.

The House presented one of the first of these piecemeal bills seeking to provide funding to the US Postal Service ahead of an election in which many will likely be voting by mail

“Let’s do a more targeted bill now,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sept. 6. “If we need to do more in 30 days, we’ll continue to do more.”

Skinny bill could fail and a single large relief bill might pass

Formal talks for the overarching bill have yet to restart, but the Senate has returned from recess this week and the House of Representatives gets back to work next week, after passing the USPS bill during the break. The total cost of the bill is the root disagreement. 

As the Nov. 3 elections near, the leadership’s coronavirus response is expected to take center stage during campaigning at all levels, increasing the political pressure to pass the next wave of aid.

Here, we present a speculative timeline of dates for when we could see a relief bill passed if talks do resume. It draws from Congressional voting schedules and the potential of postponing a planned recess or the House returning early to pass a bill. 

When could the stimulus bill pass?

Senate votes House votes President signs
Possible timeline if legislation passes in September Sept. 22 Sept. 23 Sept. 24
Sept. 30 Oct. 1 Oct. 2
Oct. 6 Oct. 7 Oct. 8
Oct. 20 Oct. 21 Oct. 22

Executive orders could be issued instead of, or in addition to, a bill

After talks originally collapsed on Aug. 7, President Donald Trump took unilateral action by signing one executive order and three memoranda on Aug. 8. It’s possible more executive actions are coming.

During a news conference last week,Trump said the administration might consider another executive action to release $300 billion in stimulus aid in an unused account for Americans, if Congress doesn’t vote to redirect those funds.

Trump’s current COVID-19 relief executive actions address slowing evictions, extending unemployment benefits to a lesser degree and deferring payroll taxes until next year.

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The end of all talks would be devastating to millions of Americans.


Sarah Tew

Relief might go on hold until after the election

With the Nov. 3 election two months away, the atmosphere in Washington could be too politically charged to pass more economic relief bills, and leaders may want to see what happens after the election.

With 470 seats in the US Congress — 35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats — up for election in November, any change in majority to the House or Senate, and to the presidency itself, could shift the likelihood of certain laws being passed one way or another.

The government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is already playing heavily in the campaign at all levels. If a deal isn’t reached soon, the topic of a relief package could very well come up during town halls or debates held in the coming weeks. 

poor-small-change-pennies-on-the-dollar-money-cash-stimulus-payments-personal-finance-014

Democrats and Republicans have been disagreeing on how much relief aid should be included in the stimulus package. 


Sarah Tew

If no additional action is taken

Unemployment remains at staggeringly high levels and a housing crisis looms on the horizon. If no action is taken on a relief package, individual bills or executive orders, it could potentially cause the economy to plunge into a deeper recession, as economists say the damage already done is beginning to mirror the Great Recession of the late 2000s. 

For more information, here’s how soon you might get your second stimulus check and what to know about the HEALS, CARES and Heroes stimulus bill proposals that could help inform a final package.

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