Two new stimulus packages have been proposed while lawmakers continue to push for second stimulus checks to help Americans cope with the coronavirus-led economic crisis. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell want to add stimulus measures to the spending bill that must be passed before the Dec. 11 deadline.
Stimulus Measures Could Be Added to Spending Bill That Must Pass This Week
U.S. lawmakers unveiled new stimulus proposals last week after months of negotiations with no progress on either a new coronavirus relief stimulus package or second stimulus checks for Americans.
Time is running out for a stimulus bill to be approved before the end of the year when several key benefits from the first stimulus package will expire. Lawmakers are also scheduled to begin their holiday recess on Dec. 18, and they must approve a spending bill by Dec. 11 to avoid a government shutdown.
After failing to come to an agreement with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now discussing stimulus terms directly with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Pelosi told reporters on Friday that she and McConnell had agreed to try to reach a deal that could be included in the spending bill that must be passed by the Dec. 11 deadline. She believes that there is “sufficient time” to close a deal before that date. Both President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden have urged Congress to pass the next stimulus bill now.
Two New Stimulus Proposals
A compromise $908 billion bipartisan stimulus package was unveiled last week by a group of GOP and Democratic senators who are expected to finalize legislation over the weekend.
This stimulus package includes $300 weekly federal unemployment benefits, $160 billion in state and local aid, another $288 billion for more small business assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $45 billion for struggling airlines and mass transit systems, $25 billion for rental assistance and $35 billion for healthcare. However, it does not include a provision for second stimulus checks for individuals.
Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement on Wednesday, stating:
In the spirit of compromise we believe the bipartisan framework … should be used as the basis for immediate bipartisan, bicameral negotiations.
While top Democrats have embraced this $908 billion stimulus plan as the starting point for negotiations, McConnell indicated last week that he would not support this package, pushing for his own smaller proposal.
However, Senator Bill Cassidy, one of the lawmakers who worked on the bipartisan framework, said Sunday that both McConnell and Trump will eventually “come on board,” noting that President Trump has already indicated that he would sign the $908 billion package.
Meanwhile, McConnell has proposed another stimulus package of his own that is being negotiated behind closed doors and likely resembles the two $500 billion stimulus bills he previously proposed. His plan omits both second stimulus checks for Americans and the $600-per-week federal boost to unemployment insurance.
McConnell tweeted on Wednesday:
I put forward yet another proposal that would invest many billions in workers, laid-off Americans, small businesses, & vaccine distribution. I hope Democrats will finally let us get a bipartisan outcome soon.
“We don’t have time for messaging games. We don’t have time for lengthy negotiations. I would hope that this is something that could be signed into law by the president, be done quickly, deal with the things we can agree on now,” he continued.
Mnuchin told reporters that “The president will sign the McConnell proposal” as he walked into a House committee hearing on his department’s response to the pandemic on Wednesday.
Did Pelosi Make a Mistake Rejecting the $1.8 Trillion White House Offer With Second Stimulus Checks?
Pelosi has come under fire for turning down a larger stimulus deal with direct payments to Americans only to back a smaller package with no second stimulus checks.
Prior to the election, the White House offered her a $1.8 trillion stimulus package that contained second stimulus checks, which she turned down, refusing to compromise her $2.2 trillion Heroes Act. The $908 billion package she now supports does not provide for another round of direct payments to Americans.
Pelosi insists that her rejecting the $1.8 trillion offer was not a mistake. She said during her weekly press conference Friday:
That was not a mistake, it was a decision … Now, the fact is, I’m very proud of where we are.
However, some of her colleagues disagree with her. Democratic Representative Ro Khanna told CNN on Friday that they should have taken the $1.8 trillion stimulus deal. Mnuchin publicly said at the time that if Pelosi accepted it, President Trump would squeeze McConnell and get the bill passed.
The house speaker attributed her decision to support the $908 billion stimulus package without second stimulus checks to Biden’s election and the looming arrival of two vaccines, which she called “a total game-changer.” Pelosi said: “President-elect Biden has said this package would be at best just a start. That’s how we see it, as well.”
Meanwhile, Biden said on Friday that he was “confident” that an agreement was possible, stating:
It’s not going to satisfy everybody, but the option is, if you insist on everything, we’re likely to get nothing on both sides.
Lawmakers Fighting to Provide Direct Payments to Americans
The omission of second stimulus checks for individuals has caused quite a stir, with a number of lawmakers vowing that they will not support a bill without direct payments to Americans.
Senator Bernie Sanders was among those who are unsatisfied with the new stimulus proposals. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to significantly improve this bill. But in its current form, I cannot support it,” he said Friday. Sander affirmed that the omission of another round of $1,200 direct payments to Americans was “unacceptable.”
Representative Rashida Tlaib is also against not providing a second round of stimulus checks to individuals. She tweeted:
It’s critical that we have another stimulus check. Direct payments help families in desperate need & it stimulates our local economy.
Do you think Americans will soon receive second stimulus checks? Let us know in the comments section below.
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