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House passes $2.2 trillion bill with new round of $1,200 stimulus checks – but there’s bad news

Published Oct 2nd, 2020 10:18AM EDT
New stimulus check
Image: Rod Lamkey - CNP/MEGA
  • House Democrats passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package on Thursday night with a new round of $1,200 checks, money for state and local governments, and improvements to the PPP.
  • The updated HEROES Act barely passed the House and unfortunately, it is unlikely to even be voted on in the Senate because Republicans say the price tag is still too high.
  • Without more stimulus, the US economy could stall out in the fall ahead of the election.

The headlines will be dominated by President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump’s positive COVID-19 tests for the foreseeable future, but that wasn’t the only big news to come out of Washington Thursday night. Despite failing to strike a deal with Republicans or the Trump administration, House Democrats passed the $2.2 trillion HEROES Act that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proposed at the beginning of the week.

As CNBC reports, the legislation was approved by a vote of 214-207, with 18 Democrats in vulnerable races choosing not to support their party’s bill, knowing it likely won’t become law. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear that the price tag is still too high, which means it stands little chance of passing in the Senate.

Between the first presidential debate and the coronavirus diagnosis of the Trumps, any conversations regarding the next potential stimulus package were not exactly top of mind, but all week long, Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were in talks to provide more aid to the American people as the economy continues its excruciatingly slow recovery. There was interest on both sides, but the amount of aid to provide state and local governments as well as providing liability protections to schools and businesses became sticking points.

The updated HEROES Act features many of the same core tenets of the initial bill, including more $1,200 stimulus checks for taxpayers plus $500 for their dependents, improvements to the Paycheck Protection Program, assistance for airline industry workers, more funds for child care and education, $436 billion to help state and local governments, more money for coronavirus testing and contact tracing, and resources to ensure safe elections.

With members of Congress leaving Washington to campaign back in their home states, this might have been the best chance for the federal government to provide more aid to the American people ahead of the election. But with the new HEROES Act unlikely to be brought to the floor for a vote in the Senate (much less pass with a Republican majority), we will likely be waiting until after November 3rd for a much-needed boost to the economy.

If anything could convince Republicans to act on the bill, it might be that the economy added 661,000 jobs last month, which dropped the national unemployment rate down from 8.4% to 7.9%. The recovery has slowed substantially from the summer, and without any additional help from the federal government, it’s likely that the economy will continue to stall, especially as reports of mass layoffs have become common in recent days. With countless contested elections set to decide the future of the House and Senate this fall, this is the last thing Republicans need.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.