A second round of $1,200 stimulus payments to help offset economic losses in the CCP virus pandemic appeared to be a surefire proposal, garnering bipartisan support and support from the White House. However, after this week, that prospect appears less likely, according to lawmakers.
Democrats in the Senate blocked a slimmed-down GOP bill on Tuesday—one that would not provide stimulus checks—as talks between top Democrats and the White House remain at a standstill with neither side giving ground. Now, lawmakers in both parties said a deal is unlikely to be made until after the election in November, and others have pointed out that the economy has improved, meaning it’s not necessary to pass further stimulus.
“The farther you go on this, as employment re-engages, more people are getting back to work,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “I don’t know of anyone that turns away a free check in the mail, but every single check that’s sent out is money taken from your next-door neighbor or from the future.”
The GOP bill included $300 federal weekly unemployment benefits, small business loans, liability protections, and more. It excluded aid to state and local governments, mortgage assistance, and additional food support.
As of now, enhanced federal unemployment benefits have continued, although smaller than the $600-per-week, after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to keep it going last month.
Trump several weeks ago said that he supports sending out stimulus payments, and at one point, said that he would direct Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to ready the program. But he later said that he needs congressional support.
Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) both publicly support stimulus payments.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was able to get enough votes on Thursday among Republicans, although the smaller bill failed to advance. Every Senate Democrat voted against the measure.
Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters at a press conference earlier Thursday: “Let’s not have a skinny bill when we have a massive problem.”
Some analysts have said that McConnell, with the failed vote, was attempting to force Democrats in Congress to go on defense. McConnell, on the Senate floor, made arguments that Republicans are attempting to pass stimulus measures while lessening the burden on the national debt.
“Republicans have tried repeatedly to build on the Cares Act to get more help out the door to American families,” he said ahead of the vote Thursday, saying that Democrats are standing in the way of aid.
Some lawmakers said that when the House convenes next week, there might be a possibility for negotiations to resume.
“When Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi’s troops get back into town next Monday, we’ll see if there’s a frustration among enough of her troops and marginal districts to get us back to the negotiating table,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), according to the Wall Street Journal.