Second Stimulus Check Delay Could Go on for Weeks as Congress Leaves Town

As Democrats and Republicans continue to stalemate over the next round of coronavirus aid, the legislation looks to be weeks away. The Senate wrapped up its session for the rest of the month, with both parties describing themselves as hopelessly far apart when it comes to agreeing on a deal to combat the ongoing economic and health crises. The House had already adjourned for all of August and left town pending a pandemic relief deal.

Thursday, Democrat and Republican leaders both indicated no progress has been made as millions of Americans struggle to afford food and housing and protections from the previous aid bill have expired. If Congress returns next month without an agreement, they will have to negotiate coronavirus aid while also trying to avoid a government shutdown by the end of the month, according to CNBC.

It is unclear when meaningful negotiations will resume between Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer when they are scheduled to meet with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Just this week, Pelosi held steady with Democrats' demand for the GOP to double their roughly $1 trillion aid package, but Mnuchin said the White House would not agree to that. Thursday, Pelosi told reporters she had no timeline for when talks will resume. "I don't know. When they come in with $2 trillion," she told reporters at the Capitol, as per Politico. "When they're ready to do that, we'll sit down. We're not inching away from their meager piecemeal proposal." She had earlier said in her news conference that the stimulus package needed dire passage, stating, "We can't wait until Sept. 30. People will die."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of "barely even pretending to negotiate" while speaking on the floor Thursday, calling Pelosi's agreement to lower the initial $3.5 trillion package to $2.5 trillion was "throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks."

In almost three weeks of discussions, the fifth introduced coronavirus relief package has gone nowhere, despite the protections of previous bills falling away. In late July, a moratorium on evictions from federally-backed housing expired, as did enhanced federal unemployment insurance of $600 per week lapsed at the end of July. This weekend, the window to apply for Paycheck Protection Program small business loans closed.