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There’s an inkling that the stimulus bill could still be salvaged.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The future of the next coronavirus relief bill looked grim over the weekend, after President Donald Trump signed an executive order and three memoranda to cover some, but not all, of the issues White House and Democratic negotiators had hoped to include in another stimulus package. Now there’s renewed hope that talks could continue this week, with both sides signaling a willingness to rekindle the debate.

“I think there is a compromise if the Democrats are willing to be reasonable. There is still a lot of things that we need to do and that we’ve agreed on,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday morning. “We’re prepared to put more money on the table.”

That’s a huge difference from Friday evening when Democratic and Republican negotiators couldn’t meet in the middle on the size of the bill.

“We have to reach an agreement,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday. “Meet us halfway and we’ll be able to have an agreement that meets the needs of the American people.”

So what now? Here’s what we know today. This story updates frequently as the news develops. 

Scenario 1: A stimulus bill agreement happens this week

The House of Representatives and White House negotiators tackling the details of the stimulus proposal have signaled a willingness to continue talks — as long as both sides give some ground. (More below for what the sticking points are.)

“We are ready to meet the White House and Republicans halfway,” Democratic Minority Whip Dick Durbin said Sunday. “We’ve said that from the start.”

If talks resume and the legislation goes to a vote in one chamber as soon as Wednesday or Thursday, it’s possible a bill could become law late this week or early next week. Both chambers must vote before the legislation lands on the president’s desk for his signature. If it follows the timeline for the CARES Act, which was passed in March, a new bill could become law within three days from the Senate vote.

When could the stimulus bill pass?

House votes Senate votes President signs
Timeline no. 1: Legislation passes next week Aug. 12 Aug. 13 Aug. 14
Aug. 13 Aug. 14 Aug. 17
Aug. 14 Aug. 17 Aug. 18
Aug. 17 Aug. 18 Aug. 19

Scenario 2: Trump’s executive orders don’t stick

Following the advice of his advisers, Trump signed one executive order and three memoranda to spur action on eviction relief, extending the enhanced federal unemployment benefits, providing student loan relief and creating a payroll tax cut. The latter has been an agenda item favored by Trump for the stimulus bill, but was dropped by the Senate and his negotiators. 

The executive orders have bypassed the stalled negotiation between the Democratic-led House and the administration, but detractors have cast doubt whether the president’s actions will effectively help people. There are also questions as to Trump’s ability to legally make certain decisions that constitutionally require an act of Congress. 

“This is an unworkable plan,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday during an interview on ABC News. “Most states will take months to implement it, because it’s brand new. It’s sort of put together with spit and paste. And many states, because they have to chip in $100 [per person for the unemployment benefit], and they don’t have money, won’t do it.”

If Trump’s actions do end up in court, that could also pave the way for renewed talks by both parties. It’s also possible that if a deal is reached in the coming weeks, the executive orders could be found null and void. 

Scenario 3: Talks stop, no completion of the executive order

Another option, which could devastate millions of Americans, is that there is no deal at all. This could happen if both sides can’t reach a compromise on the main sticking points in the bill and if Trump’s executive actions don’t progress. The bill could also die if, after a deal is reached, the Republican-led Senate votes it down after a Democratic-led House vote. 

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


Sarah Tew/CNET

What’s been holding up the stimulus deal?

The Senate, House of Representatives and White House all agree that a second stimulus check that will send payments directly to Americans is essential to help turn the current recession around. 

The biggest issue appears to be the cost of the overall stimulus package. The Senate’s HEALS Act would cost $1 trillion, while the House Democrats stipulated $3 trillion total in its Heroes Act proposal from May. (The CARES Act, which delivered $1,200 stimulus checks to Americans earlier this year, was worth $2.2 trillion.)

“We said we’d come down a trillion. You go up a trillion. Meet us halfway,” Pelosi said Sunday.

“We’re not stuck at the $1 trillion,” Mnuchin said on Monday, “but we’re not going to go unlimited amounts of money to do things that don’t make sense.”

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


Sarah Tew/CNET

What else could delay the stimulus package?

After the House votes, the Senate might disagree with certain parts of the bill. If that happens, the Senate can send the bill back to the House with changes, and ask Pelosi and the House to agree with those changes. If either the House and the Senate disagree with some portion of a bill, they can call for further negotiations to get to a final version. 

Once the Senate secures a full vote and passes the bill, the legislation moves to the president’s desk. In the typical lawmaking process, the president has 10 days to sign or veto the bill. It’s unlikely Trump will wait to sign the bill once it reaches him, since he signed the CARES Act about a day after the Senate passed it. 

There could also be further delays if Trump moves to repurpose unspent federal dollars for unemployment and it’s challenged legally.

For more information, we’ve looked at how soon you might get your second stimulus check and compared the HEALS, CARES and Heroes stimulus proposals.

source: cnet.com

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