- The US House of Representatives on Friday passed a new coronavirus stimulus package that’s full of benefits — including money set aside to fund the payment of new stimulus checks for Americans.
- The proposal calls for another round of stimulus payments totaling $1,200 for individuals and up to $6,000 for households.
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As the workweek drew to a close, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion coronavirus emergency relief package that bears the distinction of being the biggest such emergency bill in US legislative history. It follows on the heels of the previous record-holder, a $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package from back in March that provided funding for, among other things, direct payments which the IRS is still in the process of distributing to most Americans to help blunt at least a little of the economic pain stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
This new bill passed by the House, which will now go to the Senate where leaders in that Republican-controlled chamber have already said they’re loath to keep throwing money at solving the coronavirus crisis — at least at the scale as envisioned in this new bill — which would seem to make the bill dead on arrival in the upper chamber. The bill is chock full of coronavirus-related items, such as $200 billion to give hazard pay to essential workers and $75 billion for COVID-19 testing. It will also be interesting to see how Republicans handle one particular wild card in this new legislative package — an appropriation of funding that would give most Americans a new round of coronavirus stimulus checks. The amounts would total $1,200 for individuals, and up to $6,000 for households.
If you set aside the money for those new stimulus checks, what you have here is your garden-variety partisan spending bill that garners predictable division. The White House was already threatening to veto it even before the House took its vote, and on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “published an 1,800-page seasonal catalog of left-wing oddities and called it a coronavirus relief bill.” However, here’s why it’s not that simple.
The most recent unemployment additions of almost 3 million people have pushed the overall toll of jobs lost during the coronavirus pandemic to almost 36.5 million. Even before this week, most Americans were also already saying they were ready for stimulus check #2, a function both of the pain of the economic catastrophe we’re living in now and the insufficiency of the first round of checks (many of which still haven’t been delivered or deposited by the IRS yet).
Bottom line: Don’t expect another check anytime soon. We’re in the middle of a presidential election campaign season now, never mind that the pandemic situation is nowhere near being solved. That means everyone will increasingly retreat to their corners, with Republicans also increasingly taking a pro-business tack such as insisting on new tax cuts and on trying to free businesses from liability in case they reopen, workers or visitors catch coronavirus, and those newly-infected people want to sue them.
The top Republican in the House, Steve Scalise, blasted this new relief package as a “socialist giveaway.” Since the coronavirus pandemic erupted in March in the US, Congress and the White House have worked together to pass into law four separate coronavirus-related bills totaling around $3 billion. We may, however, have at last hit the limit or be close to the limit of what federal lawmakers ae willing or able to do to address the crisis at this point, however.