This year’s fall season has never been so hectic and anxiety-ridden. Coronavirus is still a thing. Economies are trying to recover, while businesses are trying to reopen. Jobs are slowly coming back, while schools are in flux. The campaign for the presidency kicked up a notch as it winds to its last stages. Lost in the chaos is an important question among Americans. Is a second stimulus check still happening?
Last July, Congress adjourned without coming out with a comprehensive relief program. Both sides continued to negotiate during the break but ended up being further apart. The previous program’s benefits expired on July 31, and until now, there are no new bills. A $600 extra jobless benefit, a moratorium on evictions, and the window to apply for PPP loans all have lapsed since.
President Donald Trump issued executive orders last August that aimed to provide relief. The jury’s still out on the orders, as there were questions on implementation and funding. Now that the Senate is back from recess, there’s hope for a new round of relief for Americans. What the relief package contains is still up for debate.
GOP Proposes the”Skinny Bill”
On Tuesday, Senate Republicans introduced a less-than-expected coronavirus aid bill. It does not have the anticipated stimulus check, but it does have unemployment aid. Instead of the extra $600 unemployment benefit, the GOP proposed half, or $300. The “skinny bill” also includes liability protections for businesses and health-care facilities. It also funded more money for health-care funding and schools. Finally, it also contains the second round of Paycheck Protection Program funding. While the bill provides only a part of the previous relief, it only costs between $500 billion to $700 billion. Unspent funds for Federal Reserve facilities support will cover some of the costs.
All in, $105 billion would go to schools, $16 billion into Covid-19 testing, and $31 billion toward the development and stocking of vaccines. Another $15 billion would go towards childcare grants. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called it a “targeted proposal.” He said: “We want to agree where bipartisan agreement is possible… get more help out the door and then keep arguing over the rest later.” He hopes that Congress will vote on the proposal later this week.
Democrats Say No Again
In response to the skinny bill, the Democrats remained unimpressed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) noted that this bill won’t help. In a joint statement, they claimed “Senate Republicans appear dead-set on another bill which doesn’t come close to addressing the problems and is headed nowhere.” Dems criticized the bill because it excluded other sectors that need help. Missing are funds for state governments, rental and mortgage, USPS, and food. As a result, the bill likely will not get the needed 60 votes to pass the Senate. It would also take a miracle to get approval in the Democrat-controlled House.
While acknowledging that Americans need aid, Republicans balk at spending more money. Earlier, they shot down a Democrat stimulus proposal worth $3 trillion. The GOP insisted on a $1 trillion budget and refused to resume talks even when the price tag went down to $2 trillion.
Reacting to the Democrats, McConnell said: “Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer said a targeted deal on jobless benefits and the Paycheck Protection Program would be ‘piecemeal,’ but then-Speaker Pelosi came rushing back to pass the most piecemeal bill imaginable: Postal Service legislation.” He noted that this bill “completely ignored the health, economic, and education crises facing families.”
McConnell added: “Everything Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer have done suggests one simple motivation: They do not want American families to see any more bipartisan aid before the polls close on President Trump’s re-election. They have taken Americans’ health, jobs, and schools hostage for perceived partisan gain.”
The Deadline is Looming
The November elections are putting the squeeze for incumbents to do something. The White House, in particular, would prefer the release of second stimulus relief aid before the polls. Incumbents facing tough reelection also need party help to boost their chances.
It’s time for parties to realize that there is more than the election at stake. The more important deadline was the one set by everyday Americans. Election year or not, if a second stimulus check will happen, it has to happen now.
Watch CNBC Television: Texas Senator Ted Ruz doesn’t believe Congress likely won’t pass stimulus before Election Day:
Do you think that both parties can come to terms with submitting a bipartisan bill to provide a second stimulus relief package to Americans? Or has the time run out to come up with something? Let us know how you feel about this by leaving your comments below.