Second Stimulus Check: Senate Adjourns Without Reaching Deal on Proposal, Unemployment Expiration

The Senate has failed to reach an agreement on extending unemployment benefits on Thursday, having adjourned until 3 p.m. on Monday. This means that the current unemployment benefits, which affords recipients $600 a week, will expire on Friday with no replacement in sight.

As Axios noted, tens of millions of Americans are out of work who have been receiving the weekly payments in addition to their regular unemployment payments. The extra income was aimed as a means to prop up the broader economy via consumer spending. Congress and the Trump administration appear to be in a deadlock over the next stimulus bill, with 20 Senate Republicans (at least) currently pledging to vote "no" on any massive relief package. The HEALS Act, which Senate Republicans are current pushing, did have a stopgap measure of $200 unemployment benefits, and an eventual plan to pay out 70 percent of someone's former salary, but that's months away — if the bill passes.

Two Senators attempted to alleviate the issue. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, pushed to unanimously pass a short-term extension of the benefits at the $200 a week rate. However, it was shot down by Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. Schumer then attempted to pass the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which the House passed back in May. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky blocked the measure, which he called a "totally unserious proposal."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, who helped sponsor the HEROES Act, slammed McConnell and his fellow Republicans over their general inaction regarding a second stimulus package. "I would hope that over 10 weeks of failing to act, Leader McConnell would at least get his facts straight: The House-passed [Heroes Act] extends the enhanced unemployment benefits families are depending on — while his 'proposal' slashes benefits by $400 a week."

McConnell, meanwhile, has indicated that unemployment benefits could end up as part of a smaller stimulus package. The Senator noted that "many things around here happen at the last minute," when asked if he was seriously considering a smaller bill or a short-term option. He also told reporters that "we're looking at all options," explaining that "hope springs eternal that we'll reach some kind of agreement either on a broad basis or a more narrow basis to avoid having an adverse impact on unemployment."