As we have previously covered, there have been lingering doubts about whether or not there will be a second stimulus check. It is becoming clear that Mitch McConnel’s comment about the timing of another relief package being “uncertain based on the proximity to the election” aptly identified one of the major complicating factors in passing another relief package.
While the ideal value of the package varies drastically across party lines—which we will breakdown below—both parties agree that there is a need for one, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has persisted in the United States. In the beginning of October, The Washington Post reported that there “appears to be a new sense of urgency from the White House and some congressional Republicans to reach some agreement amid signs the economic recovery is weakening.”
Since then, the United States has set a record for new COVID-19 cases in a single day with a shocking 100,000+ new reports, breaking the record of 91,000 which the US had set the previous day. Europe is also facing a major resurgence of COVID-19 cases, forcing many countries back into complete lockdowns. These are clear indicators that the pandemic will not be going away any time soon.
Creatives, service workers, and airline workers around the world have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, leading 751,000 Americans to file for unemployment benefits last week. All of this makes it abundantly clear that a second stimulus check for US citizens is a necessity.
When to Expect the Bill to Pass
Today, it became impossible for a bill to be passed prior to the election as Senators adjourned today and are not scheduled to return to Congress until Monday, November 9th. This means that the responsibility of issuing a second stimulus check will fall into the hands of whoever wins the Presidential race, tomorrow, November 3rd.
In spite of his previous position on passing a bill prior to the election, President Donald Trump urged Congress to complete a deal prior to election day. The reason why the bill did not pass differs from party to party, with Nancy Pelosi (D) blaming it on resistance from the Republican party, while Mitch McConnel (R) said it was due to the size of the proposal.
Regardless of their differences, both parties agree that there is a need for a second round of stimulus checks. This means it is no longer a matter of if, but when. In an interview with CNET’s Hugh Hewitt, McConnell said that the stimulus package is “something we’ll need to do right at the beginning of the year.”
Once the negotiations are over and a bill passes, it is expected that the stimulus checks will be distributed in order of need. This is in line with the way that the first check was distributed, which is good for some but worrying for others as many are still waiting for their relief and may not recieve it until Spring 2021.
Looking at the Different Options
The size of the bill seems to be the primary issue, but there is more to it than just that. The bill is being drawn up as an all encompassing stimulus package. The $2.2 trillion Heroes Act passed by House Democrats did not pass into law due to its size. The $1.8 trillion counter offer by the White House was rejected by Speaker of the House Pelosi on the grounds that it did not do enough to support contact tracing/COVID-19 testing efforts and child care.
McConnell has said that the Republican Party has crafted a slimmed-down proposal of $500 Billion that would focus on funding contact tracing and virus testing programs, unemployment benefits, an additional Paycheck Protection Program, as well as financial aid to schools. Unfortunately, a second round of stimulus checks is not known to be included in this “slimmed-down” proposal at this time.
A Goldman Sachs analyst Alec Phillips has been quoted as saying that “a standalone bill to authorize another round of stimulus payments to individuals is [not] likely, as neither party has made this a priority.”
So, what does this all mean?
Well, it means that there will be another economic stimulus package that will most likely include a second round of checks for US citizens. It also means that you should not be counting on receiving that check any time soon, regardless of the election results.