Stimulus Checks: Democrats Want to Renew Discussions About Second Payment

On Tuesday, Democrats in the House of Representatives pushed to renew negotiations for a second stimulus check bill, despite the flagging talks and the new distractions rearing their heads. Democrats have struggled to reach an agreement with the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate since May, and many Americans are beginning to doubt that more financial aid is ever coming. According to a report by CNBC, Democrats said that they are not giving up in a hearing on Tuesday.

"The economic impact payments must be made because the rent must be paid," said Texas Rep. Al Green. The House held a hearing with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about the possibility of passing more stimulus measures despite the political stalemate. The most recent Republican "skinny bill" on the subject did not include a direct stimulus check, though both parties are more or less agreed on that program. Green went on: "If we do not do this, we will put persons at risk of being evicted at a time when we are having a pandemic that is still taking lives in this country."

Congressional reps grilled Powell and Mnuchin about how the first stimulus check was distributed, and how things would change for a second round. Green pointed out the recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which found that almost 9 million eligible people did not receive their first stimulus check due to the incomplete data at the Treasury Department. Reps urged the IRS to continue seeking these people out.

As for the second stimulus check, the reps wanted a straightforward analysis from Powell and Mnuchin. Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib asked Mnuchin: "Yes or no, do you believe another stimulus check could help stabilize the economy?" He responded: "I do. The administration does support another stimulus payment."

"We obviously can't pass a bill in the Senate without bipartisan support. Our job is to continue to work with Congress to try to get additional help to the American public," Mnuchin went on. Tlaib responded: "I think you need to be very clear with the senators... that direct payments to individuals is critical to preventing economic collapse in our country."

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Despite the widespread support for the stimulus check itself, the remainder of any potential stimulus bill is making it hard to get the legislation passed. While Republicans want to argue about the particulars of each individual program, Democrats are insisting that they meet in the middle on the price of the overall bill itself. That would be around $2.2 trillion, but Republicans are refusing to go above $1 trillion.

With the Senate now focused on replacing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the 2020 presidential election, it is not clear when the next steps in a stimulus package negotiation may come.