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With the progress of the so-called compromise package bogging down in recent days, there is growing concern that a second stimulus package will even get a vote on the Senate floor before the holiday hiatus. A key focus of the current stalemate is a debate over whether the Act will include details for the distribution of individual stimulus checks and if they are included, the exact amount of the payments.
Most Democrats and a progressive coalition that includes Bernie Sanders is pushing for individual checks to remain at the same level established in the initial CARES Act ($1,200 per adult and $500 per child) while most Republicans, including President Trump, are pushing for $600 individual payments. Not surprisingly, the response to this reduced package has not been positive. “The proposal that came out of the White House just yesterday talks not about $1,200 per person but $600. That’s unacceptable,” Sanders said during a recent MSNBC interview. Outlier Republican Senator Josh Hawley has joined the call, noting publicly that a CARES level check is essential to a second stimulus package’s success.
Hawley and Sanders are rallying forces to force a vote on a second package before the seasonal break.
As the timeline shortens, frustration is rising on both sides of the house as the prolonged stalemate continues. As Republican Senator John Kennedy noted, “[McConnell] ought to just turn to the members of the Senate and say, ‘Look, we can stay here forever and not reach an agreement, it’s time to vote, have at it, dog. If you want to vote against it, vote against.’ We’re right where we were when we started three or four months ago, Kennedy continued. “The Senate only works when everybody’s not crazy at the same time.”
According to The Hill, “Analysts have roughly estimated that direct payments of $600 would cost about $170 billion. That’s about half the cost of the first round of payments and is an amount similar in size to the amount of funding proposed for state and local governments in both the White House and the moderates’ proposals.”
Corporate America is adding its voice to the fray as well, with chief executives from McDonalds, Walmart, and Starbucks urging politicians to take bipartisan action quickly to pass a second stimulus package bill. In an open letter to Congress, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson was clear in his message:
“This moment will require all leaders—from governments, businesses and communities—to come together to help address a common cause, just as we have done many times throughout American history. Starbucks urges Congress to take immediate bipartisan action to pass new COVID relief legislation to address the urgent needs in our communities, especially for the millions of Americans out of work, small businesses facing economic uncertainty and the public health needs of state and local governments on the front lines of the pandemic.”
He closed his letter noting that by working “[t]ogether, we have the opportunity to inspire the human spirit and demonstrate the resilience and courage that highlight the best of our people – and the best of our country.”
Watch this blog for updates on this and other financial news as it unfolds.