Update: Second Stimulus Package

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As we enter the second week of October, a decision on a second stimulus payment is far from imminent. But here is a brief update of what you might watch for in the days leading up to Election Day:

  • On Wednesday, September 30, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin offered a $1.62 trillion COVID-19 relief proposal in talks with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday, offering more state and local assistance than GOP negotiators have to date in a sign of potential progress toward a deal. If talks go well in the coming days, a couple of scenarios are available to lawmakers as explained by CBS New York:
  1. If the House can pass a final bill this Friday (October 2) and the Senate the following Monday (October 5), the President could sign as early as Tuesday (October 6). Direct deposits would start going out the Week of October 12, and checks would begin going out the week of October 19.
  2. If the House can pass a final bill next Friday (October 9) and the Senate the following Monday (October 13), the President could sign as early as Tuesday (October 15). Direct deposits would start going out the Week of October 19, and checks would begin going out the week of October 26.
  3. If the House can pass a final bill on Friday (October 16) and the Senate the following Monday (October 19), the President could sign as early as Tuesday (October 20). Direct deposits would start going out the Week of October 26, and checks would begin going out the week of November 2.
  • Thursday, October 1 saw no breakthrough in discussions, with Pelosi’s spokesperson acknowledging that while the pair “discussed further clarifications on amounts and language but the distance on key areas remain.” Officials in both parties are growing increasingly pessimistic about whether the distance can be closed in the coming days as are financial markets, which saw stocks close well off the highs of the day’s session.

Remember, though, that the House is scheduled to go on recess October 2. That said, Speaker Pelosi has been vocal about passing a second stimulus package even if Congress has to postpone its next break. If the House postpones its hiatus, the Senate will be duly pressured to suspend its recess, scheduled to start October 9.

Another possibility, albeit an unlikely one, is that President Trump might opt to activate a second stimulus package via an Executive Order, especially given that November 3 is looming closer every day now.

But with so much unfolding around The Hill these days, from a contentious Supreme Court appointment to the post-Debate scramble for balance, there are many distractions that can still take up the political bandwidth needed to push a pre-election stimulus package through. As Forbes magazine notes: “It’s possible that even if negotiations go well, we won’t see a new stimulus package on the voting schedule until after the election.”

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