Hope for another stimulus relief bill may be faltering among the American people, but a recently-introduced $900 billion proposal may finally break the legislative stalemate that has been ongoing on Capitol Hill for months. After months of back-and-forth discussions, collapsed negotiations, and finger-pointing, a bipartisan bill revealed Tuesday is now gaining more support among lawmakers, setting up the potential for additional relief to happen before the end of 2020.
Headed by a bipartisan group that includes Sens. Joe Manchin, Susan Collins, Mark Warner, Bill Cassidy, Jeanne Shaheen, Lisa Murkowski, Angus King, Mitt Romney and Maggie Hassan, as well as House members, the bill totals $908 billion. Although it does not include the second round of stimulus checks, it does seek to provide $288 billion in Paycheck Protection Program small business loans, $160 billion in state and local government aid, $180 billion in additional unemployment insurance, and $82 billion for schools. It would also provide $16 billion for vaccine distribution, testing, and contact tracing, among numerous other provisions.
The bill's introduction came nine months after the first relief bill, the CARES Act, was signed into law and came as an increasing number of Americans believe that Congress will not pass a new package by the end of the year. A Dec. 2 YouGov poll, penning the question "when, if ever, do you believe Congress will pass a bill for a second COVID-19 stimulus package?" found that out of the 6,229 U.S. adults surveyed, only 7% believed a bill would be passed within the next week. That number only ticked up to 11% for those believing a bill will be approved within the next month, and 25% said that they did not think a package would pass until January 2021. However, another 22% indicated that they "don't think Congress will ever pass a bill for a second COVID-19 stimulus package."
Despite these beliefs, hope has been renewed in Congress as a growing number of lawmakers throw their support behind the latest proposal. On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, in a joint statement, backed the proposal, stating that the bill "should be used as the basis for immediate bipartisan, bicameral negotiations." President-elect Joe Biden has also voiced his support, saying, according to Newsweek, the package "wouldn't be the answer, but it would be the immediate help for a lot of things."
There has, however, been some opposition. Shortly after the bill was introduced, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected it. He told reporters that "we just don't have time to waste time," adding that a must-pass spending bill and pandemic relief provisions will "all likely come in one package."