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Is the stimulus package in trouble? Here’s the latest.


Angela Lang/CNET

Two self-imposed deadlines have come and gone to tie up the loose ends on a stimulus package before the Nov. 3 election, taking place in eight days on Nov. 3. That leaves a razor-thin timeline to pass a bill before Election Day, or possibly bring new legislation to a vote just after the election. Despite the superslim margin, some top politicians remain optimistic.

“We are waiting for the final yes,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also the bill’s lead Democratic negotiator, said Sunday morning on State of the Union, adding that she’s hopeful to work out the final details on national testing, school funding and unemployment aid, three unresolved topics that continue to separate the two sides.

While it’s possible that the last-dash efforts could yield a bill that comes to a vote before Election Day, others have thrown cold water on the prospect of pushing a bill through, one that would include a second stimulus check of up to $1,200 going out to eligible Americans amid a coronavirus pandemic expected to claim more lives and jobs this winter. 

“I do have a commitment from [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell that if we get an agreement, he’s willing to bring it to the floor and get it passed,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said earlier on the same program.


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McConnell is, in fact, a source of doubt. The Republican leader of the GOP-dominated Senate has made his objection known, cautioning President Donald Trump not to move forward with a Pelosi deal. Although McConnell has previously said he would put a stimulus vote to the Senate floor if a deal is made, he has not publicly committed to a timeline.

Among some Senate Republicans, the opposition has been fierce, but others have signaled their tacit support.

“The bill on this is probably going to be higher than I want it to be and I’m very uncomfortable with that,” Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, said Oct. 22. “I think the price of not doing something is even higher.”

“So as long as it’s limited in some way, as long as it’s not crazy, yes I’m willing to be flexible about it because I think it’s that important,” Rubio added.

Trump has hinted that he would pressure Senate Republicans to pass the vote. During the Oct. 22 presidential debate, Trump said he’s prepared to get a deal done: “We are ready, willing and able to do something.”

Economists in the highest roles of government have stressed the need for stimulus aid. “Too little support would lead to a slower and weaker recovery,” said Lael Brainard, who sits on the Federal Reserve’s board of governors, MarketWatch reported on Oct. 21. On Oct. 6, the chairman of the Fed, Jerome Powell, made an appeal for more aid, citing greater economic risk in providing too little aid rather than too much.

The CARES Act from March has been considered instrumental in keeping 13.2 million Americans out of poverty. Its protections have since lapsed, sparking new fears about permanent job loss, pervasive hunger and an economy that may not rebound until 2022, even with a coronavirus vaccine. And nearly 300,000 people have died in the US since January as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to an Oct. 20 report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a number experts worry will grow during colder fall and winter weather.

What happens if a bill doesn’t pass before the election, and how could it affect Americans and the economy? Here’s what we know. We update this story with new information when it’s available.

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


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What if a stimulus bill doesn’t pass before Nov. 3? 

There’s both optimism and skepticism over a bill being passed before the November election, especially with doubt that McConnell and Senate Republicans will vote a final bill through. 

Pelosi herself has acknowledged that a deal may not be passed in time. “I’m optimistic, because even with what Mitch McConnell says, ‘We don’t want to do it before the election.’ But let’s keep working so that we can do it after the election,” she said Oct. 21. 

Here are some possible scenarios:

A White House offer is completed in time and passes: In this best-case scenario, a bill passes both chambers of Congress and is signed into law before Nov. 3. Stimulus checks and other aid would likely begin to go out within weeks.

A White House offer is finalized and fails in the Senate: In this situation, the House and Senate could wait until after the election — and potentially after the Jan. 20 inauguration — to revisit stimulus aid, potentially setting back the clock by months.

A White House offer is not finalized in time and talks continue: This scenario is much like above, and would effectively stall a bill earlier than the previous scenario. It’s likely that the House would then use this bill as a starting point to push the bill through faster once negotiations revive post-election. 

Talks stop until after the election results are in: If talks don’t yield an actionable bill, negotiations could limp along or stop altogether. However, it’s likely they’ll restart in some capacity immediately after the election and leading into January. It’s been speculated that if Trump loses the election and if the Senate loses its majority, there will be little incentive for Congress to pass a sweeping package until 2021 during the transition.

To help visualize when a bill could pass, we’ve speculated and come up with five possible dates, both before and after the November election. If a bill does pass that includes a direct payment, here’s how quickly we think the IRS could send a second stimulus check.

When could a stand-alone stimulus bill or package pass?

House votes Senate votes President signs
Oct. 30 Oct. 31 Nov. 1
Nov. 9 Nov. 10 Nov. 11
Nov. 16 Nov. 17 Nov. 18
Nov. 23 Nov. 24 Nov. 25
Feb. 1, 2021 Feb. 2, 2021 Feb. 3, 2021

What happened to the House’s stimulus bill from early October?

On Oct. 1, the House of Representatives passed a revised Heroes Act that includes a second stimulus check and additional benefits such as enhanced unemployment benefits for tens of millions of Americans. The new House bill, endorsed primarily by Democrats, was not expected to advance through the Republican-controlled Senate, and indeed has not.

According to Pelosi, the vote on the revised Heroes bill was independent of ongoing negotiations with Mnuchin. 

The vote was thought to provide cover for House Democrats as they campaign without a new relief bill, much as the Senate did earlier in September for Republican members with its $650 billion skinny bill. Like the skinny Senate bill, this new House proposal has little chance of advancing in the other chamber.

What do Republicans and Democrats agree on?

Proposals from both sides have included another stimulus payment of up to $1,200 for individuals who meet the requirements, among topics like aid for airlines, enhanced unemployment insurance and extending the Paycheck Protection Program for businesses. Although the Senate’s targeted bills do not include stimulus checks, in the past, Republicans (including those in the Senate) have supported them. Here are more details on what the Senate bill supports compared to the current package under negotiation and the most recent bill passed by the House.

For more information about stimulus checks, here’s how soon you might get your second stimulus check now 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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