- The signs are starting to look positive again that Congress could finally press forward with a new stimulus bill, which would include funding to provide most Americans with a new stimulus check.
- Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he thinks one is needed before the end of this year.
- There’s a big question about whether Trump would want one of his last acts in his office, however, to be the signing of another multi-trillion-dollar coronavirus stimulus package.
One major hurdle that could stand in the way of Congress’ passage of a new coronavirus stimulus bill seems to have crumbled this week. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that he’s open to the possibility of a new stimulus package — which would be in the lame duck session of Congress and the waning days of President Trump’s term, judging by how things look as of Friday morning. “As I’ve said repeatedly in the last few months, we need another rescue package,” McConnell said. “Hopefully, the partisan passions that prevented us from doing another rescue package will subside with the election. And I think we need to do it and I think we need to do it before the end of the year.”
The Democrat-led House of Representatives has passed a bill known as the HEROES Act, which among other things provides for stimulus checks of as much as $6,000 for two-parent families with three children ($1,200 for each adult and dependent child). Before anyone starts anticipating a new stimulus check, though, let’s take a closer look at the lay of the land in terms of timing.
Here are some variables at play, to watch out for. In no particular order:
Variable #1: The HEROES Act immediately went into a state of suspended animation in the Senate, where Republicans balked at tackling yet another multi-trillion-dollar coronavirus aid package. Yes, McConnell is on record as saying he could conceivably support and allow a vote on a new stimulus bill as soon as the next few weeks, before the end of this year. If McConnell gets his caucus to go ahead with this, though, it remains to be seen if they’ll loosen up a bit in terms of a ceiling they want to put on any bill’s price tag.
Variable #2: The required signature from President Trump, assuming a bill did make its way through both houses of Congress before the end of this year. Washington Post economics reporter Jeff Stein tweeted the following on Thursday, from a source on the odds of a Trump-signed stimulus deal in the lame duck session: “Trump does not want the last thing he does in office (to be) a $2 trillion debt spending bill. We want Biden to own that, not Trump.” Will an aggrieved Trump have any interest in using his presidential pen for the last time to sign another massive stimulus bill?
Variable #3: Speaking of “massive,” just because McConnell has signaled his interest in picking this back up again, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll go for something huge. Could we see him try for something more targeted again? Such as, passing a bill that includes mostly stimulus checks and not much else, whereas Democrats want to take a kitchen sink approach to a new stimulus bill?
Variable #4: Let’s add here whatever Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is thinking right now. She led the charge for months in resisting pretty much every overture from Trump Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on stimulus — and while Democrats still control the House, they did lose some seats this week. Making Pelosi’s control slightly more tenuous. From CNN congressional correspondent Manu Raju:
“She never takes any responsibility," one House D member said of Pelosi. "We blew it. She made everyone walk the plank on qualified immunity, didn't cut a deal on Covid. Thank God for Biden or we would have gotten wiped out." Others defended Pelosi. Some want Bustos out at DCCC
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 6, 2020