Stimulus Package Expected Before Christmas
Lawmakers are not leaving Capitol Hill for the holidays without passing another stimulus package, vows House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) rejected a bipartisan proposal that included $240 billion for state and local governments. It also included a 4-month extension to the $300-per-week unemployment benefit (read more here).
“We just don’t have time to waste time,” said McConnell. He is crafting his own relief package with help from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“The way you get a result is you have to have a presidential signature, so I felt the first thing we needed to do is to find out what the president would, in fact, sign, vetting that on our side, and then we’ll let you know later whether we think there’s any way forward,” added McConnell. “I think the one thing we all agree on is we don’t have time for messaging games, we don’t have time for lengthy negotiations.”
McConnell and Pelosi both agree that the next stimulus package should be part of the year-end spending bill lawmakers must pass by December 11th to avoid a government shutdown.
“We’ll take the time we need and we must get it done…We cannot leave without it,” said Pelosi.
Last week, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) agreed to lower their demands for funding based on Joe Biden’s victory and the progression of two COVID-19 vaccines. Biden has already promised to secure more emergency funding as soon as he is elected.
The latest bipartisan proposal put forth is worth $908 billion – much less than the $2.2 trillion HEROES Act passed by House Democrats in October, but far more than McConnell’s $519 billion plan. Pelosi and Schumer have submitted a separate proposal, but they have not yet released the details.
In the meantime, lawmakers are faced with ongoing partisan disagreements and an ever-shrinking timeframe.
“Right now, the full Congress should come together and pass a robust package for relief to address these urgent needs,” says Biden, but any package passed in a lame-duck session is likely to be, at best, just a start.”