Dem and GOP Senators Join Forces: Second Round of Stimulus Checks
The crippling financial condition of tens of millions of Americans face every day has created a somewhat unlikely political alliance. U.S. Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have joined together to introduce an amendment adding stimulus checks to funding legislation needed to prevent a government shutdown.
Sanders, a Democratic socialist icon, said as he stepped onto the Senate floor Thursday evening…
“Let us do the right thing; let us pass this amendment in a bipartisan way.” “In this moment of economic crises, we have got to do everything that we can do to restore faith that this government works for ordinary people,”
Sanders was joined in the motion to amend the legislation to keep the U.S. government open by Josh Hawley, a self-described “constitutional conservative.” The Republican introduction of “The Emergency Direct Payments for Families and Workers Act” proposes a second round of stimulus checks with size and eligibility criteria similar to the first one.
Under the CARES Act passed over eight months ago, around 160 million Americans received a stimulus payment of up to $1,200 — plus $500 for any child dependent — amounting to over $270 billion out of the $2.2 trillion relief package passed in March.
Sanders and Hawley co-introduced the amendment to authorize another round of stimulus payments. Hawley said from the Senate floor on Thursday evening…
“I’ve heard some of my colleagues say that there just isn’t enough left for working families that once we take care of our other priorities and COVID relief, there just isn’t enough left to give direct assistance to individuals.”
“I want to respectfully suggest that those priorities are exactly reversed.”
Despite the bipartisan gesture by Sanders and Hawley, a stand-alone deal for the stimulus checks doesn’t likely have enough votes to become law if a bigger deal on stimulus is not reached.
Gordon Gray, director of fiscal policy at the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank, told Yahoo Money…
“My own view on Sen. Hawley’s proposal, particularly if it earns a veto threat out of the White House, is that it makes an already fraught and complicated negotiation more complicated and therefore less likely.”
“They’re costly, and if Republicans want to hold the line on cost and find consensus with Democrats, they crowd out other priorities.”
Two of the main proposals on the negotiating table — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) around $500 billion package and the Democrat-backed $908 billion bipartisan proposal — don’t include a provision on direct payments.
The White House’s $916 billion proposal is the only one that includes the provision but leaves out supplemental unemployment benefits, which Democratic leaders called “unacceptable.”
Democrats across all ideological lines have been calling for a second round of stimulus checks since May. With 20 million people unemployed and another 12-20 million facing eviction and the end of their unemployment benefits a day after Christmas, the demands for this repeated stimulus have become a cacophony.
In a statement on Friday, Senator Sanders called the bipartisan proposal cobbled together by the House’ problem solvers caucus “unacceptable.” It “does not even do what the CARES Act did and provide, at the very least, a $1,200 direct payment to working-class Americans and $500 for their kids.”
Sanders went on to say…
“Tens of millions of Americans living in desperation today would receive absolutely no financial help from this proposal,” “That is not acceptable.”
Senator Hawley is not the only Conservative Republican supporting the provision for another round of stimulus checks. He is joined in this effort by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and John Cornyn (R-TX), and an estimated 20 conservatives in the Senate.
Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have repeatedly stated that the stimulus deal they want would be attached to the legislation is needed in the next two weeks. This is required to avert a partial government shutdown. It indicates we are likely to see a government shutdown and battle in the Senate over a second round of stimulus checks.
An estimated 12-20 million Americans are expected to lose all their unemployment benefits coverage when two programs are enacted under the CARES Act passed in March; the massive pandemic stimulus legislation expires on December 26. Also expected to disappear is the federal eviction moratorium, paid sick leave, aid to state and local governments, among other forms of relief, will also lapse.
Hawley said from the Senate floor on Thursday evening…
“We will not leave this town until we have voted, up or down, on direct relief for working people,”
There are more than enough votes to pass a second round of stimulus checks in the U.S. Senate and House if Senate Leader Mitch McConnell brings it to a vote. To get to that point and result, McConnell’s demand for corporate immunity from Covid-19 lawsuits from employees must somehow be tied into the economic bailout.
Who needs a second round of stimulus checks the most?