As Americans wait to hear if they will receive second stimulus checks, lawmakers are scrambling to avert the looming government shutdown. A spending bill, which could include some stimulus measures, must be passed before the Dec. 11 deadline to avoid the shutdown.
Stimulus Payments Affected by Government Shutdown
As U.S. lawmakers continue their stimulus negotiations, including providing Americans with the second round of direct payments, the government is facing a shutdown, which could be prevented if lawmakers can pass a spending bill before the Dec. 11 deadline.
Congress returned to Washington Monday for a short session that will end before Christmas. The Senate convened on Monday afternoon while the House will meet Wednesday. To prevent the shutdown, an agreement on the overall $1.4 trillion federal budget has already been reached but lawmakers still need to decide where all the money will go, according to NBC News. Both Republican and Democratic leaders reportedly want to approve legislation to keep the government running until September 2021, the end of the fiscal year, instead of passing a short-term bill.
Besides passing a bill to avoid the government shutdown, lawmakers also need to decide whether to approve another coronavirus relief aid package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still pushing for her $2.2 trillion revised Heroes Act while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to get his $500 billion stimulus package approved. So far, an agreement has not been reached and time is rapidly running out to pass a package by the year’s end as several major benefits provided by President Donald Trump’s Cares Act are running out. While Pelosi’s stimulus proposal provides individuals with another stimulus check, McConnell’s bill does not.
Speaking on the Senate floor Monday, McConnell called for a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses and funds to streamline coronavirus vaccine distribution. He criticized Democratic leaders for refusing to compromise, stating:
The American people need more help and they need it right now.
However, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer argued Monday that McConnell is only interested in passing a bill that addresses the provisions Republicans support, instead of a true compromise.
While congressional leaders have not seriously met to negotiate stimulus terms, NBC News reported that a small group of Republican and Democratic senators have held discussions about a possible compromise.
Prior to the election, Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met regularly to discuss stimulus terms but the two could not come to an agreement. Last week, Mnuchin proposed that Congress seriously consider reallocating $580 billion of funds that have already been appropriated — the idea which McConnell supports.
Many people doubt that any significant stimulus relief aid will be passed before Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20. “We are pessimistic about the prospect of any significant near-term fiscal relief, and fear several social safety-net programs may be allowed to expire, affecting millions of households across the country,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, lead economist at Oxford Economics. She added that millions of Americans are “heading for a bleak winter as safety nets expire.”
Some analysts are more optimistic that Congress could pass a smaller bill than Pelosi’s Heroes Act before the end of the year. Goldman Sachs’ strategists said lawmakers are likely to enact a $1 trillion stimulus package even before Biden’s inauguration in January. However, even if a stimulus package is passed early next month with second stimulus checks for individuals and households, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) could take weeks or months to electronically deposit the funds into people’s bank accounts and a lot longer to mail out paper checks.
Do you think Americans will receive another stimulus check before the year’s end? Let us know in the comments section below.
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