By Jean Marie Daley
Back in March, Congress approved a $2.2 trillion dollar stimulus package referred to as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES). This was a bipartisan effort to protect Americans from the fallout of COVID-19 by providing quick and direct economic assistance to individuals, families, and businesses. Although this was the largest ever stimulus package in U.S. history, many are still feeling the lasting economic impacts of the virus. There has been continued pressure on Congress to approve the second round of stimulus, but there are party-line divisions as to what this next package should look like. What are some features that may be included in the next bill?
Under the CARES Act, many Americans received direct checks from the government for as much as $1,200 with additional $500 checks being distributed for dependents. It is looking less likely that another round of stimulus checks will be included in the next bill, particularly since it is not included in the $908 billion bipartisan proposal that is being pushed to be passed before Christmas. President Trump is pushing to include $600 checks, while some senators in the Democratic Caucus, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, are pushing for even larger checks. Those lawmakers who want to see stimulus checks in the bill are refusing to back the current proposal as it is written.
The hope is to attach this package to a full-year spending bill to keep the government running. If a package is not passed before year end, congress will likely pass some short-term measures to cover a week or so until they can wrap up negotiations. Biden has made clear that regardless of what deal is struck now, it will only be the first step in additional help he hopes to pass in 2021 that would include stimulus checks. This would have to pass the senate, which may or may not be under Democratic control. We are still awaiting the senate runoff results in Georgia to know who the senate majority will be.
The two other contentious issues are at the forefront of new relief efforts: one to satisfy Republican demands and one to satisfy Democratic demands. Republicans want to pass some kind of liability protection for businesses, schools and other entities operating under the pandemic with the hope that it would make it more difficult for courts to find these entities liable if customers, students or employees contract the virus. Democrats want additional funding for state and local governments to provide them with aid as COVID continues to be an issue.
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