The weeks have now dragged into months in the negotiations for a second stimulus check, and Americans are still waiting. Lawmakers in the United States Senate are not done negotiating a bill to provide more financial aid amid the coronavirus pandemic. This week, many Americans are concerned that the talks are focusing too much on other subjects.
Lawmakers in the United States Senate have been working on a second stimulus check since mid-July, while the U.S. House of Representatives has been working on it since mid-May. The two legislatures are inching closer to an agreement on the bill, but in the meantime, millions of Americans are unemployed and are at risk of losing their food, housing and other necessities. While both sides try to stand firm on certain concrete goals in the debate, more and more desperate constituents are asking them to pass anything they can.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an historic level of unemployment in the U.S., and an economic recession. Generally, the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democrat-controlled House cannot agree on which relief measures would best offset these problems, and which are worth their cost.
Unfortunately, the result so far has been steady gridlock, with no sign of how or when it will break. More and more Americans are focusing their scrutiny on the issue, hoping to spur lawmakers to act that way. Here is a look at the latest updates of the week.
Cut in Half
Perhaps the biggest development in weeks was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's announcement that she and other Democrats would be willing to cut the funding for their stimulus package in half to get it passed. Previously, Republicans insisted on a strict $1 trillion limit, while Democrats required at least $3 trillion for their proposals. Pelosi told Politico that she would slash that number in half just to make a deal quickly.
"We have to try to come to that agreement now," she said. "We're willing to cut our bill in half to meet the needs right now. We'll take it up again in January. We'll see them again in January. But for now, we can cut the bill in half."
Still, some Americans were disappointed that this would mean some of the programs in the Democrats' proposal would need to be dropped. Additionally, some were confused about whether Pelosi meant half of $3 trillion — $1.5 trillion — or less, since she had previously agreed to lower the price already.prevnext
This week, the current timeline for guessing when a stimulus package might be passed is harder to pin down than ever. Pelosi called the House back from a scheduled recess early to address the issues with the U.S. Postal Service, but it is unclear if they will pick up their stimulus check negotiations while they are at it. Additionally, some wondered why the much-needed stimulus negotiations weren't enough to cancel the recess in the first place.
Regardless, the Senate is on a recess of its own at the moment, so Democrats are left with no one to negotiate with. Assuming they do not end their break early, the Senate is scheduled to return to the capitol on Sept. 7, following Labor Day. From there, they will need to agree on and formally pass a stimulus bill, along with the House, and then send it to President Donald Trump to sign into law.
The good news on this front is that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin claims that the IRS is now prepared to send out stimulus checks within a week of the bill passing. This could be much faster and less painful than the last stimulus check distribution.prevnext
Even as work on the second stimulus check drags on, news about the first check is still rolling in slowly but surely. The IRS announced this week that it is reopening registration for the first stimulus check, since millions of Americans reportedly did not receive the funds they are entitled to.
This late registration process will be conducted on the IRS' website, either through the Get My Payment app or the Non-Filers' tool. The eligible groups include non-filers — Americans whose income does not require them to fill out a tax return every year — who can identify themselves and provide their banking information or mailing address on the website to receive a check. They will receive a stimulus check of up to $1,200 based on income. They have until Oct. 15 to sign up.
Also eligible are Americans who receive federal benefits and claim dependents under the age of 17. Previously, the IRS failed to send many people in this group the $500 stimulus check for their dependents. They have until Sept. 30 to sign up and correct this error.prevnext
This week, spending and earning reports indicated the dire need of the stimulus check and other forms of financial relief in concrete ways — particularly the statistics from Walmart. The big box chain reported a big drop in consumer spending across the board in recent months, which appears to coincide with the end of the last stimulus check period.
To many analysts, this indicates that Americans now lack the funds to get their necessities at Walmart. The company's CFO, Brett Biggs, broke the news on CNBC, saying that their data showed the first stimulus check "was definitely impactful" for Americans. Another one "would be for consumers" as well, he said.prevnext
Politics as Usual
Politicians have some good gd nerve asking folk for campaign donations and there’s still no 2nd stimulus. No job or healthcare and y’all still finna knock them over the head for $20????? I hate it here. pic.twitter.com/FELSLYQ7SL— Richie Giovanni (@AyeshaSelden) August 18, 2020
Meanwhile, struggling Americans were appalled this week to hear politicians on both sides of the aisle soliciting campaign donations from them amid this economic recession. Twitter filled with outrage as senators, congressional representatives and presidential candidates all began running ads asking average people for support.
Similarly, some Americans found it hard to get invested in the Democratic National Convention, the Republican National Convention and the 2020 presidential election in general when it seemed so far from removed from their real-life needs. The DNC 2020 is taking place this week, confirming the nomination of former Vice President Joe Biden for the race. The RNC 2020 will follow next week, and according to a report by USA Today, these major events are almost sure to delay stimulus check negotiations further.prevnext
Y’all can stay and talk about the stimulus package too... https://t.co/0xszUfELDX— cydney (@cydney) August 16, 2020
Lawmakers could not agree on a stimulus package before leaving Washington, D.C. for recess, but this week Pelosi called the House back to the capital for an emergency hearing about the changes at the U.S. Postal Service. While many Americans were concerned by the threat to the presidential election, some were disillusioned by the fact that politicians would treat this as an emergency, but not the stimulus negotiations.
The Senate has not returned from recess amid the USPS scandal, and so far there is no hint that it will break its recess early. This means that, despite the fact that they are in Washington, Democrats have no one to negotiate with over the stimulus package.prevnext
Finally, more and more Americans are focusing on the other forms of financial relief surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, and how they are impacting the negotiations. The Senate and the House are agreed upon the stimulus check itself — up to $1,200 based on income, with nearly identical threshholds to the previous bill — but items like unemployment, housing assistance and state funding are holding them up.0comments
These issues are becoming all the more real as the previous forms of relief begin to expire. On July 31, millions of unemployed Americans lost the $600 per week unemployment bonus passed in March as a part of the CARES Act. Republicans are insistent on cutting this bonus, while Democrats want to keep it the same.
The president tried to provide a temporary solution for this issue with an executive order directing the funds from FEMA to supply temporary unemployment enhancements, but so far they have not been distributed. More and more problems are emerging with this method, as a new memo revealed this week. It is not clear how these unconventional funds can be distributed, and it looks like they will not even last a full month, as Trump had hoped.prev