‘We are hoping within weeks’: Stimulus negotiations get a new goalpost. What it means for you – CNET

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Is the stimulus package in trouble? Here’s the latest.


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In the seven-day countdown to the Nov. 3 election, it’s now clear that the divisions between Democratic and White House negotiators are still too wide to reach an agreement on a sweeping stimulus bill that includes a second direct paymentunemployment aid and other funding. (If you’re curious, Former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has a stimulus plan, too.)

Both sides now acknowledge that a stimulus agreement is unlikely to arrive before Election Day but have set a new goal to sew up their differences after the election.

“We are confident that we can get something in the coming weeks,” White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah said Tuesday on Fox & Friends. “We are hoping within weeks. I don’t want to get too ahead of any announcements.” 

“We’ll be working until we have something that the president will sign. I don’t see any circumstance where the House and Senate would have a bill that the president wasn’t going to sign,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the bill’s lead Democratic negotiator, according to Politico. “We really have to get a bill done, but whatever it is, we’ll be ready in the new Congress.” 

The current commitment to the timeline is significant, since the period between a general election and the inauguration of the next presidential term — known as the lame-duck period — is notoriously a dead zone when it comes to passing new legislation, with the exception of emergency measures, like avoiding the US government shutdown on Dec. 11


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The results of the election, which might potentially affect the political majority of the House of Representatives, Senate and even the office of President, could also affect how soon a bill could pass and what it would contain.

Meanwhile, both the Senate and House are on recess until after the election, though it’s possible some individuals would continue working on stimulus legislation behind the scenes. However, there is no current plan to reconvene for a potential vote if a bill is decided.

“We’ll come back in November. The question might be, will there be something then?” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama, on Monday, Bloomberg reported. A bill is said to go through this committee before reaching a vote.

On Sunday, Pelosi cited national testing, school funding and unemployment aid as three unresolved topics that continue to separate the two sides. 

Talks have been on-again, off-again for months, as the US continues to rack up coronavirus cases and deaths as a result. Friday saw a new case record as COVID enters a third surge across the US. Several aides to Vice President Mike Pence have tested positive for COVID-19, including his chief of staff, underscoring soon after President Donald Trump’s own hospitalization with the coronavirus that the pandemic is of ongoing concern. Meanwhile, projections of job losses as a result of the virus continue to alarm.

What happens now, and how could it affect Americans and the economy? Here’s what we know today. We update this story with new information when it’s available.

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Democrats and Republicans have disagreed on how much relief aid should be included in the stimulus package. 


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What happens between now and Nov. 3? How about after? 

For now, White House and Democratic negotiators seem committed to continue work on a stimulus bill. “Let’s keep working so that we can do it after the election,” Pelosi said Oct. 21

Here are some possible scenarios for what could happen next:

A White House offer is completed after Nov. 3: An agreement is made and the current House and Senate vote. If President Donald Trump signs it into law, stimulus checks and other aid would likely begin to go out within weeks, with certain groups receiving financial help before the end of 2020.

A White House offer is finalized and fails in the Senate: In this situation, the House could vote on a deal after the election, but the current Senate, which is Republican-led, could vote it down, so the bill would not become law. In this case, Congress might try again after the Jan. 20 inauguration. 

Some funding could be included in a bill that also refunds the government past Dec 11: It’s possible that one piece of funding, for example a stimulus check, unemployment aid or an extension of the eviction stay, could make it into a bill to keep the government funded past Dec. 11 and avoid a shutdown.

Talks stop until after the election results are in: If talks grind to a halt after the election, it’s likely they’ll restart in some capacity after the inauguration in January. It’s been speculated that if Trump loses the election and if the Senate loses its majority, there will be little incentive for Congress to pass a sweeping package until 2021 during the transition.

To help visualize when a bill could pass, we’ve speculated and come up with five possible dates, both before and after the November election. If a bill does pass that includes a direct payment, here’s how quickly we think the IRS could send a second stimulus check.

When could a stimulus bill or package pass?

House votes Senate votes President signs
Nov. 2 Nov. 9 (Senate back from recess) Nov. 10
Nov. 9 Nov. 10 Nov. 12 (Nov. 11 is Veteran’s Day)
Nov. 16 Nov. 17 Nov. 18
Nov. 23 Nov. 24 Nov. 25
Feb. 1, 2021 Feb. 2, 2021 Feb. 3, 2021

What happened to the House’s stimulus bill from early October?

On Oct. 1, the House of Representatives passed a revised Heroes Act that includes a second stimulus check and additional benefits such as enhanced unemployment benefits for tens of millions of Americans. The new House bill, endorsed primarily by Democrats, was not expected to advance through the Republican-controlled Senate, and indeed has not.

According to Pelosi, the vote on the revised Heroes bill was independent of ongoing negotiations with Mnuchin. 

The vote was thought to provide cover for House Democrats as they campaign without a new relief bill, much as the Senate did earlier in September for Republican members with its $650 billion skinny bill. Like the skinny Senate bill, this new House proposal has little chance of advancing in the other chamber.

What do Republicans and Democrats agree on?

Proposals from both sides have included another stimulus payment of up to $1,200 for individuals who meet the requirements, among topics like aid for airlines, enhanced unemployment insurance and extending the Paycheck Protection Program for businesses. Although the Senate’s targeted bills do not include stimulus checks, in the past, Republicans (including those in the Senate) have supported them. Here are more details on what the Senate bill supports compared to the current package under negotiation and the most recent bill passed by the House.

For more information about stimulus checks, here’s how soon you might get your second stimulus check now and what to know about the HEALS, CARES and Heroes stimulus bill proposals that could help inform a final package.

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