Second Stimulus Check: What's Next Now That Skinny Stimulus Bill Failed?

Last week, the GOP-introduced "skinny" stimulus bill failed in a vote on the Senate floor, stoking fears that additional relief remains far off. The bill — seeking, among other things, to extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as well as enhanced unemployment benefits — failed in a vote of 42-57, with a single Republican crossing party lines to vote with Democrats. But with the latest development from Capitol Hill, what happens next?

Unfortunately, the failure of the bill, as well as the continued deadlock in other negotiations, doesn’t bode well. As Forbes points out, without further funding for state and local governments, something that was not included in the skinny proposal, the running debts of state governments will continue to grow amid the pandemic, with a June review by Moody's Analytics estimating that states will be short $312 billion on their budget sheets through the summer of 2022. This could force government agencies to face spending cuts and layoffs. Without further funding, state and local governments will also "continue to bear sole responsibility for aiding essential workers."

A much broader concern is how the lack of additional stimulus relief will affect individual Americans. With millions of Americans still out of work, enhanced unemployment benefits are in danger of running out, and at-risk tenants and homeowners remain in limbo. President Donald Trump signed an executive order in August addressing these things, though it only stalls evictions and extends the moratoriums on single-family foreclosures and real estate owned (REO) evictions to the end of the year. Unemployment benefits, however, are even more at risk, as the order allocated $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund. Those enhanced benefits will continue until Dec. 27, or when the Disaster Relief Fund depletes to $25 billion, or further legislation is passed, or the $44 billion in FEMA aid runs out. Reports this week claimed that the benefit is expiring this week, meaning that unemployed Americans will no longer see a boost in their benefits.

With all of these things piling up, the need for a stimulus relief bill is urgent. While both sides of the aisle have stated their desire to reach an agreement, it is unclear if that is possible. A new goal date for a deal has hypothetically been set for Sept. 30, as Congress is scheduled to take another recess beginning on Oct. 12. Remarks from lawmakers, however, have suggested that Americans should not expect a deal to be reached until after the November election. This would mean that Americans would have to wait even longer for relief, including a potential second stimulus check.