If the U.S. Congress doesn't pass a second stimulus bill by the end of 2020, it will likely be passed in the administration of President-elect Joe Biden, changing the shape of the package altogether. However, Biden's plan for providing systemic financial aid amid the coronavirus pandemic will also be shaped by the United States Senate, and the course of the virus itself.
Biden was projected to be the winner of the 2020 presidential election on Saturday morning, according to a report by The Associated Press, and now many Americans are looking at how he may handle their most pressing issues. For many, that includes a second stimulus check, which has been in the works since May of 2020. Many assume that the stalemate will continue until Biden takes office in January, or that President Donald Trump will refuse to sign off on a new package before he leaves office.
If that's the case, Biden's new administration could take a few different approaches to the issue, depending on the Congress it inherits. The most important factor is the Senate, where both Republicans and Democrats both currently hold 48 seats. The rest are going to run-off elections in January, which will determine the majority party for Biden's first term. If Republicans maintain control, they could force some serious compromises on the Democrats and the new president.
According to one report by Market Watch, if Republicans win the Senate, the second stimulus package is likely to be limited to just $500 billion, more closely reflecting the priorities of the HEALS Act. If not, Biden could favor the Democrats' HEROES Act, but he would still need to reach across the aisle for support.
Even if Democrats win the majority in the Senate, it takes at least 60 votes to decisively wrap up a debate and get a bill passed. Short of that, even with over 50 votes, Democrats could be stopped by filibusters in some cases.
Analysts are cannot be sure yet if Republicans would be that uncooperative with a stimulus bill — especially in 2021, following another spike in coronavirus cases and prolonged economic turmoil. However, some are already charting paths by which Biden could provide financial aid without going through Congress.
Economic researcher Stephen Myrow told Market Watch that could use executive orders to send direct aid to families, though that strategy had mixed results for Trump. Biden could also try to influence the Federal Reserve, promoting policies that would help in long term, ultimately closing the income inequality gap. "All these things are incremental steps that add successfully to real change and remake the economy in a more progressive image," Myrow said.
Biden has released thorough policy plans on many issues, but so far he has not put forward his own vision for an economic stimulus package. Assuming that the recounts and legal challenges to the 2020 presidential election do not bear fruit, Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States in January.