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The Senate apparently doesn’t think anyone needs new stimulus checks

Published Sep 9th, 2020 2:20PM EDT
New stimulus bill
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  • The Republican-controlled Senate is scheduled to vote on a new stimulus bill on Thursday, after a previous accord on new coronavirus relief languished in the body for weeks.
  • One thing this new bill won’t have is funding for a new round of coronavirus stimulus checks.
  • President Trump has floated his own proposal for funding new stimulus checks that calls for dipping into an unused pool of federal funds.

Most Americans could no doubt use a new stimulus check right about now, given the economic pain that’s accompanied these many months of the coronavirus pandemic and the fact that the only direct relief people have gotten so far is a $1,200 check (or $2,400 for married couples). Nevertheless, guess what won’t be included in the new stimulus bill that the GOP-controlled Senate is scheduled to vote on Thursday?

This new vote is a product of the Senate being unable to reach an accord on a previous stimulus bill that emerged shortly before the body went on its traditional August recess. Though Republicans control the chamber, they were essentially warring with two other groups over the bill — Democrats, who want a measure to be as expansive and loaded with benefits as possible, as well as hard-line Republicans for whom the priority is as low a price tag as possible. That stalemate has set the stage for Thursday’s vote on the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act, which will offer about $500 billion in coronavirus relief — half of the price of the previous bill that the Senate couldn’t agree on, and much less than the $1.3 trillion figure that Republicans themselves proposed during a previous round of negotiating with Democrats. Also not in this new bill: Funding for one of the most popular elements, new stimulus checks.

This doesn’t mean, however, that work isn’t being done to try and figure out how to get a new round of stimulus checks out to people. As we noted yesterday, President Trump has floated the idea of dipping into a specific pot of money not being used right now to fund a new round of checks.

This is the so-called “skinny” bill that we mentioned before was in the works. In terms of what the new bill does have, it includes an extra $300/week in unemployment benefits through the end of 2020, as well as $105 billion for schools, $10 billion for the Postal Service, and another $258 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program.

There’s also something else to note about the new stimulus bill up for a vote on Thursday. It’s not an entirely meaningless vote, but it sort of is. Republicans don’t have a filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes for this bill, so the best they can hope for is at least 51 votes, which won’t seemingly guarantee passage of the bill but could, the thinking goes, be enough for Republican Senators facing tough re-elections to point to it as proof they took action, or tried to.

Indeed, Democrats wasted no time and rolling out that very line of attack against Thursday’s vote. In a joint statement issued by Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, as well as Democratic House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, they said: “This emaciated bill is only intended to help vulnerable Republican Senators by giving them a ‘check-the-box’ vote to maintain the appearance that they’re not held hostage by their extreme right-wing that doesn’t want to spend a nickel to help people.”

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.