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A second round of stimulus checks almost definitely isn’t happening now

Published Sep 11th, 2020 4:07PM EDT
New stimulus check
Image: Andy Dean/Adobe
  • In part of because of the GOP-controlled Senate’s failure to pass the latest coronavirus stimulus proposal in recent days, it’s now almost certainly guaranteed that Americans won’t be getting a new stimulus check this year.
  • That’s even though stimulus checks are one of the few opportunities for bipartisan agreement in Washington DC right now, the checks being something that Americans by and large agree are needed.
  • President Trump has floated a novel idea for funding a new round of stimulus checks, but he’s said it probably needs approval from Congress.

President Trump comes in for plenty of criticism for the national response he’s led to the coronavirus pandemic, which is perfectly appropriate. He’s the nation’s chief executive, with all the levers of the sprawling federal bureaucracy at his disposal. Moreover, what Trump has or hasn’t done post-coronavirus is, unsurprisingly, front and center on the presidential campaign trail, especially now that Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s new book Rage includes some damning new revelations about the president that everyone is talking about.

Comparatively, meanwhile, Congress gets a fraction of the blame and criticism that Trump does regarding a response to the coronavirus catastrophe, which is unfortunate. Yet again, for example, Congress has taken what should have been an easy layup of a legislative idea — the fact that so many Americans need help in the form of new stimulus checks, among other components of a new stimulus bill — and failed yet again to advance new legislation along these lines.

There are so many reasons to unpack as far as why the GOP-controlled Senate failed to pass its so-called “skinny” stimulus bill this week. One of the reasons is right there in the colloquial name for it. Republicans have made it clear they’re keenly interested in keeping the price tag on any new bill as low as possible, while Democrats counter that a “skinny,” slimmed-down package is not what the expansive COVID-19 catastrophe calls for.

Maybe, and it’s a big maybe, this newest bill could have gotten father if it included the most popular stimulus benefit — direct payments to Americans in the form of new stimulus checks, like the $1,200 and $2,400 checks that were sent out earlier this year — but even that popular element was nowhere to be found in the newest bill.

What this defeat crystallizes, in case anyone was unsure, is that we’re almost guaranteed to not get a new round of stimulus checks before the end of 2020. We’re now in the final stages of what will be the most contentious and possibly even the closest presidential election clashes of our lifetime, which will ensure that bipartisanship is nowhere to be found. If Joe Biden manages to become elected the 46th president in November, the final lame-duck months of the Trump administration likely won’t be a moment of great comity either, ensuring that the status quo remains.

As far as stimulus checks go, the sliver of a chance that we could get more this year actually seems to be up to Trump himself at this point. In recent days, he floated the idea of tapping money in an unused piled of federal funds right now. But he’s acknowledged that he can’t do so unilaterally and will need the approval of, you guessed it, Congress.

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.