Republicans in the United States Senate have released a new "skinny bill" to cover coronavirus relief efforts. At the same time, the debate on more significant issues rages on, but a stimulus check is not included. The bill is called the Delivering Immediate Relief to America's Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act, and it focuses on other issues from the economic relief bill. Since stimulus checks were one of the few things that all sides had agreed on, many Americans are baffled that they are not included in this new act.
The new skinny bill would provide enhanced unemployment insurance, giving each American an extra $300 on top of their check, instead of the $600 that expired in July. According to a report by Forbes, the bill would also provide new funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, for school re-openings, coronavirus testing, vaccine production, and $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service. Now, many Americans are wondering why a stimulus check was not included in the bill, and what the chances are of this bill passing in any case.
Democrats included a version of the $1,200 stimulus check in their last major stimulus proposal, the HEROES Act. They passed that bill in mid-May, but the Senate ignored it until July, when they responded with their much smaller HEALS Act. Still, the HEALS Act included a stimulus check worth up to $1,200 as well, with eligibility rules nearly identical to those used in the spring.
When negotiations over the HEALS Act were at their height, the two sides seemed to be agreed on the stimulus check itself. However, they argued over other aspects of the bill — including the cuts to unemployment insurance and the liability protections for businesses. The debate ran so long that the two legislatures both left on scheduled recesses, having accomplished nothing.
The House of Representatives is back in session this week for an emergency hearing on the recent actions of the USPS. However, the Senate is still scheduled to stay on recess until Tuesday, Sept. 8, so it is unclear how Senate Republicans' new "skinny bill" could even pass before then without an official vote.
Some public officials maintain hope that a stimulus package can be passed before Labor Day. On Saturday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows appeared on CNN, saying: "Let's go ahead and get a stimulus check out to Americans. Let's make sure that small businesses are protected..and put the postal funding in there. We'll pass it tomorrow. The president will sign it."