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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

GOP COVID relief bill fails in Senate: What are the 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

A Republican-fronted “skinny” coronavirus relief bill failed to pass the Senate in a 52-47 vote Thursday. Could Congress still pass a new stimulus bill that includes a second stimulus check and other critical relief programs to help buoy Americans looking for work, fund struggling businesses and enact widespread COVID testing?

“We have been in a challenging period,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday, according to The Hill. “I wish I could tell you we were going to get another package but it doesn’t look that good right now.”

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“The Senate Republican bill provides nothing for rent, nothing for mortgages, nothing for food, nothing for hazard pay, nothing for health care, nothing for public transportation,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said on the Senate floor Friday, adding that Americans need $2,000 per month “until this crisis is over.”

So with divisions as deep as these, what happens now? We’ve identified five possible scenarios. This story is updated often.

A single large relief bill is back on the table… sometime

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. 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. (The failed skinny bill was estimated at between $300 billion and $650 billion.)

The prognosis of another stimulus bill closing before the presidential election fluctuates from day to day. Tuesday optimism has now yielded to doom and gloom on Friday, and anything could happen until the election. On the campaign trail — digital or in person — it’s expected that the leadership’s coronavirus response will take center stage for candidates at all levels, increasing the political pressure to pass the next wave of aid or at least formulate a failsafe plan.

Here, we present a speculative timeline of dates for when we could see a relief bill passed if talks do resume next week. 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

Several small bills could pass instead

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 in support of the GOP skinny bill. “If we need to do more in 30 days, we’ll continue to do more.”

Executive orders might 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 could 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. 

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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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