Democrats will control the Senate, NBC News, CBS News and other news outlets reported on Wednesday after calling the Georgia runoff election for the state’s two Senate seats in favor of Democrats Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. The outcome — which was challenged without evidence on Twitter by President Donald Trump Tuesday night even before the final votes came in — could pave the way for Congress to approve .
The race was called for Warnock Wednesday morning and for Ossoff hours later, while Washington, DC grappled with a mob ofand halted the procedural electoral vote count taking place in the Senate.
Warnock and Ossoff’s wins forecast an easier time approving another stimulus check of up to $2,000, an amount some in Congress tried and failed to pass at the end of 2020. As thecontinue to be sent, is expected to push for another stimulus bill once he takes office in a few weeks, one with a third stimulus check. Many Senate Republicans leaders are increasingly unwilling to consider more direct aid by the end of 2020. Here’s what you need to know about how the new Congress could play into a third stimulus check.
2 ways the Senate majority can shape the next stimulus check
As a Democrat, Biden’s path to getting economic aid approved — including a third check — is predicted to be much smoother if Democrats also hold both chambers of Congress this year. In the new Congress sworn in this week, Democrats will hold a slim majority in the House of Representatives.
If Democrats are sworn into both contested Senate seats, as projected, the party will control the chamber by a hair. It would have 50 seats — 48 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party — with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris possessing the power to break ties. A Democratic majority could make it easier to push for a tie-breaking vote rather than a two-thirds majority vote.
Perhaps more importantly, a Democratic Senate Majority Leader would have the power to bring bills to a vote, including those favored by Biden and fellow Democrats. The outgoing Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, opposed boosting the $600 payments to $2,000 in the final days of the current Congress, as well as a larger stimulus package. On Jan. 1, he declined to bring a $2,000 stimulus bill passed in the House to a vote in the Senate, effectively killing the bill’s chance of passage before the new Congress took its place.
Stimulus checks are popular, and also expensive
In the days leading up to the Jan. 5 runoff, the two unsuccessful Republican candidates, Kelly Loeffler and David Purdue, both backed the $2,000 stimulus checks Trump has supported. Although the Senate failed to vote on the $2,000 checks, one thing is known — stimulus checks add up.
The IRS said it spent around $270 billion to send the first round 160 million stimulus checks last year but it’s likely that total number, once catchup payments are added in, is closer to $300 billion. Many economists have argued now is not the time to rein in federal spending, with the economy struggling to get back on its feet. Instead the federal government should look to send out more aid to prop up the economy.
For tens of millions of taxpayers, the majority of the, with a quarter going into savings, according to a Census Bureau survey from this summer. With Biden warning the country is heading into a “dark winter” — facing a spike in coronavirus cases across the US and an economy continuing to shed jobs — a second check would likely find similar uses.
Since this summer, however, some Republicans in Congress have balked at funding large aid packages as the US deficit has climbed. “We have a limited amount of resources,” Republican Sen. John Thune said Jan. 1, arguing against the Senate approving a $2,000 payment. “This is borrowed money.”
Regardless of the Senate’s new Democratic leadership, the party split will remain so close that Biden will face a divided Congress regardless. He will most likely do what every president has done and look for areas where the two sides can find common ground.
Passage of a new sweeping stimulus package might still be more difficult if Republicans rally behind more austere spending in 2021 and beyond, but smaller aid proposals focused on specific needs — such as an increase in the minimum wage or atightly focused on those most in need — could find wider bipartisan support.
As we wait for the Biden administration, here’s when you can , now that it has been approved, and .