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


Angela Lang/CNET

White House and Democratic negotiators may be inching closer to agreement about another stimulus package to help spur the economy. The White House reportedly signed off on a $1.5 trillion price tag, up from the original $1 trillion proposal, according to Politico. The Democrats have also come down from their initial $3 trillion proposal to $2.2 trillion.

“I’m more optimistic today than I have been in a long time,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Fox Business Tuesday about the prospects of a new stimulus bill.

The House of Representatives, Senate and White House already agree on a second stimulus check as part of a larger coronavirus rescue bill, but the total price, and mix of programs that will receive the funding, are points of contention. With the Senate returning to work today and the House coming back to Washington next week, the pieces will soon be in place for a vote, if a bill comes together. 

With the presidential election about two months away, both sides are under increasing pressure to produce more aid for Americans. Here are five scenarios that could happen with the stimulus package in the coming days and weeks. 

A single large relief bill could pass

A single bill’s passage hinges on bipartisan agreement on the total cost of the stimulus package, and agreement from the White House. President Donald Trump would have to sign the bill into law.

Formal talks have yet to restart, but the Senate returns from its August recess this week and the House of Representatives gets back to work next week, after passing the USPS bill during the break.

Here’s a chart with speculative dates for when we could see a relief bill passed: 

When could the stimulus bill pass?

Senate votes House votes President signs
Possible timeline if legislation passes in September Sept. 17 Sept. 18 Sept. 21
Sept. 29 Sept. 29 Sept. 30
Oct. 6 Oct. 7 Oct. 8
Oct. 20 Oct. 21 Oct. 22

Smaller bills could pass instead

We might also see smaller pieces of legislation be proposed. The House presented one of the first of these piecemeal bills seeking to provide funding to the US Postal Service ahead of an election where many will likely be voting by mail

The Senate is expected to unveil a “skinny” coronavirus stimulus package this week. It may present another way to break the negotiation logjam, though the House is expected to block it.

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

Called the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act (PDF), the draft of this proposed package does not include funding for a second round of stimulus checks.


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Executive orders could arise instead of or in addition to a bill

After talks originally collapsed on Aug. 7, 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 range from slowing evictions to extending unemployment benefits 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/CNET

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/CNET

If no additional action is taken

Unemployment remains at staggering 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.

source: cnet.com

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