A new aid package is being hammered out in Congress but a second stimulus check will not be distributed to the majority of Americans. As talks continued on Sunday, the issue of direct-payment stimulus checks became a linchpin for the deal. Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said that the only path to a deal appeared to be dropping the checks and while assuring small business aid and renters’ assistance.
Durbin said, “The $1,200 check, it cost we believe nationally $300 billion to give you an idea. The Democrats have always wanted a larger number, but we were told we couldn’t get anything through the Republicans, except this $900 billion level.” The $900 billion Durbin referred to is a total $908 billion-dollar package released Monday that would prevent a government shutdown as soon as this weekend.
Congressional Republicans have put a hard-and-fast $500 billion ceiling on the amount of spending for this package while Democrats aimed for a $2.4 trillion price tag. In the end, it appears $908 billion is the best middle ground that could be found… for now.
According to Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., “This is not a stimulus bill, it’s a relief bill. And it’s something for the next three to four months to help those in greatest need.” Cassidy did not rule a future stimulus check out, however.
Biden Held Out Hope for Stimulus Check
As recently as Friday, US Presidential-elect Joe Biden expressed optimism that the package could contain stimulus checks. At a press conference, Biden said, “I think it would be better if they had the $1,200, and I understand that may still be in play. I’m not going to comment on the specific details. The whole purpose of this is, we’ve got to make sure people aren’t thrown out of their apartments, lose their homes, are able to have unemployment insurance [that] they can continue to feed their families on as we grow back the economy.”
With the stimulus paid directly to families glaringly missing from Monday’s release, Americans may be cautiously optimistic that additional direct aid will be sent out sometime after Biden takes office Wednesday, Jan 20.
What’s in the Aid Package?
Although the main concern from Democrats is a lack of funding directly to those who need it most, the aid package contains important details to drive the economy in the short term.
- A $300 weekly enhanced federal unemployment benefit is a much-needed top-up for those who lost their job due to the pandemic.
- The Paycheck Protection Program receives an injection, accounting for nearly one-third of the aid package total. It’s an invaluable funding provision for dealerships.
- State and local funding makes up for $160 billion with the goal of retaining employees and continuing services, where 1.2 million jobs have been shed.
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