Second Round Of $600 Stimulus Checks To Come As Part Of COVID-19 Relief Deal
After months of Americans waiting for financial relief, Congressional leaders are indicating that they’re nearing a deal on a new rescue package that could pass both chambers within days.
The stimulus deal is expected to include a new round of checks at $600 per person, but no money for state and local aid, a priority desired by Democrats and no lawsuit protections, desired by Republicans. It is also expected to include an additional $300 a week in jobless benefits as well as up to $330 billion for small business loans and money for vaccine distribution.
However, there is a Democratic push to include $90 billion in aid to states that would be administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As talk of a deal is rising, congressional leaders traded offers, going back and forth earlier on Wednesday as they try to finalize a proposal. The day Congress will vote and whether they will be able to tie the roughly $900 billion relief plan to a $1.4 trillion spending bill is uncertain.
The stimulus proposal in the works amounts to about twice the amount that Senate Republicans have been proposing, but it is a fraction of what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been demanding for months.
Before the election, Pelosi had held out for a deal worth $2.2 trillion but is now willing to back a much smaller proposal, arguing that they will have another opportunity to push for more aid when Joe Biden enters the office in January.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) suggested that votes could last into the weekend, preparing his members for that possibility. If that happens, however, there could be a temporary government shutdown until final passage since government funding runs out on Friday night, and they are planning on tying the COVID-19 relief package to the funding bill.
In a floor speech Wednesday morning, McConnell spoke on the topic. Congressional leaders have “made major headway toward hammering out a targeted pandemic relief package that would be able to pass both chambers with bipartisan majorities,” he said. “We agreed we will not leave town until we’ve made law.”
Direct payments for individuals and families have become a major issue in the Georgia Senate runoff races, the race determining which party will control the chamber next Congress.
Rather than giving direct aid to states, Hill leaders are looking at a $90 billion fund that would be administered by FEMA for aid to states and cities, senators say.
Although it will not be an easy task, top Democrats and Republicans expressed confidence Tuesday evening after the big four leaders met for the first time in months. A deal is in sight, but they refused to share further details.