Stimulus All But Dead Before The Election—Here’s What That Means For Struggling Americans
The Senate adjourned Monday evening until November 9, following the swift confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court—that means that, absent a huge surprise in Washington, more federal coronavirus aid won’t pass before the election next week.
“We were trying to do two things at once,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch Connell (R-Ky.) told Fox News’ Shannon Bream after the Senate vote on Barrett, responding to an accusation that Senate Republicans had jammed through a Supreme Court nominee instead of focusing on pandemic relief.
More than 23 million Americans are still receiving some form of a federal unemployment benefit, according to data released by the Labor Department last week, and more are being added to the rolls each week.
Enhanced federal unemployment benefits—an extra $600 per week provided by the CARES Act and an extra $300 per week provided a Trump executive order—have run dry, and many workers are becoming ineligible for regular state benefits after being unemployed for more than six months.
Statewide rental protections are expiring, too (for those states that enacted them in the first place).
As relief runs out, Americans will spend less and borrow less, putting even more pressure on an already stagnating economic recovery.
“Fire them all. I really mean that sincerely,” New Hampshire’s Republican Gov. Chris Sununu told CNBC on Monday. “No one in the Senate or Congress can say that they’ve shown leadership on the Covid crisis. What have they done since March? Like literally nothing.”
Last week, Democrats in the Senate blocked a $500 billion pared-down version of a relief bill put forward by Senate Republicans for the second time, on the grounds that the GOP plan was inadequate to address the needs of the country during the pandemic. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) dismissed the GOP effort as a political “stunt” designed to force Democrats to vote on the record against additional relief measures. The most recent Democratic relief plan—a $2.2 trillion version of the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act proposal from May—has not passed in the Senate either because of vehement opposition from Republicans.
8 million. That’s how many Americans have crossed the poverty line since May, according to a recent study from Columbia University.
“We do not have shared values,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Monday about her ongoing negotiations with the White House in pursuit of a deal on federal aid, “but we hope that some pragmatism might set in on them—that the public would demand that they crush the virus.” Pelosi was referring to a snag in negotiations related to the provisions for a national Covid-19 testing and tracing plan—what Pelosi refers to in shorthand as “crushing the virus”—put forth by Democrats. After a prolonged back-and-forth, which saw Mnuchin publicly declare that the White House would accept Democratic language with only minor edits and Pelosi accuse the White House of stripping away more than half of that language, the two camps still haven’t reached a final agreement. That national testing plan has taken on even more importance in recent weeks as coronavirus cases surge to record levels heading into the winter months.
What To Watch For
Pelosi and the White House representatives have consistently said that negotiations will continue, even if more aid cannot be passed or delivered before the November 3 election. The outcome of that election, however, will have an enormous impact on what the next aid bill will look like. If President Trump is reelected and Republicans keep the Senate, Goldman Sachs analysts noted last week, it’s likely that a rescue bill could still pass before the end of the year. If former vice president Joe Biden wins and Democrats gain control of the Senate, Goldman’s researchers noted that it’s more likely that more relief won’t pass until January, when Democrats will face less Republican opposition to a larger package.
Amy Coney Barrett Confirmed To Supreme Court, Cementing Conservative Majority (Forbes)
Stimulus Negotiations Stall Over Covid-19 Testing Plan As Cases Surge To Record Highs (Forbes)
‘A Dangerous Tipping Point’: U.S. Sees Record Spike In New Coronavirus Cases, Higher Than Prior Peak In July (Forbes)
Pelosi: No Agreement Yet On Testing Language As Time Runs Out For Pre-Election Stimulus Bill (Forbes)