Here’s What’s Holding Up The Stimulus Deal
The week after a bipartisan group of lawmakers released a $908 billion stimulus framework in an attempt to break a months-long logjam in Washington, negotiators are racing to overcome three critical roadblocks—another round of stimulus checks, liability protections and state and local aid—in time to deliver more aid to Americans before Congress breaks for the holidays.
In an effort to make the overall cost more palatable to Senate Republicans, the creators of the $908 billion framework did not include a second round of direct payments to individuals and families, but a handful of lawmakers—including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.)—have said flat out that they won’t support the bill if checks aren’t included.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has not publicly endorsed the $908 billion framework and did not include more checks in his own smaller alternative plan, has “softened” his stance somewhat on the issue, Politico reported.
Lawmakers also remain divided (as they have been for months) over additional federal aid to state and local governments, which Democrats see as essential to avoid layoffs and protect essential services and Republicans have cast as a bailout to poorly run Democrat-controlled localities.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told MSNBC’s Morning Joe Tuesday that negotiators are considering a requirement for states and cities to demonstrate financial need or loss of revenue in order to be eligible for the funding.
The matter of liability protections for businesses (to help shield against lawsuits related to the coronavirus) is also holding up negotiations and has been a major sticking point between the two parties since the spring, with Democrats characterizing the legal shield as an unfair way for employers to skirt proper Covid-19 safety measures while Republicans see it as essential in encouraging businesses to reopen.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) has signaled that Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who is leading liability negotiations on behalf of his party, might be willing to support a short-term shield of six months rather than the five-year shield McConnell once proposed, The Hill reported.
“[Mitch McConnell] may agree to some version [of the $908 billion framework],” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) told Morning Joe on Tuesday. “But those two sticking points—he doesn’t want to provide any relief to state and local governments, and he is demanding broad, longstanding changes to the law in how people who get hurt are able to be compensated. . . . That’s a conversation we’re trying to close.” McConnell’s support is crucial for any agreement lawmakers reach to pass in the Senate.
21%. That’s the estimated revenue shortfall the state of Wyoming (a red state) will face in the 2021 fiscal year. That’s on par with shortfalls in blue states including Hawaii (23%) and California (17% to 21%),according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In other words, it’s not only blue states that are facing severe budget crises next year.
Even if the federal government does not send out another round of stimulus checks this year, it’s possible that more direct aid will come from state and local governments that are facing a December 30 deadline to spend federal funding from the CARES Act Congress passed last March.
What To Watch For
Sen. Manchin told MSNBC Tuesday that he expects more details about the $908 billion framework (absent the state and local aid and liability provisions, which are still being negotiated) to be released Tuesday afternoon.
Can You Sue If You Get COVID-19 At Work? Businesses Want To Make Sure They’re Not On The Hook (Forbes)
House To Vote On One-Week Stopgap Spending Bill To Buy Time For Stimulus Deal (Forbes)
Despite Signs Of Progress, Congressional Staffers Skeptical More Stimulus Is Coming This Year, New Poll Finds (Forbes)
Trump And McConnell Will ‘Come On Board’ With $908 Billion Stimulus Plan, Sen. Cassidy Says (Forbes)