Americans have been waiting for Congress to pass new stimulus legislation for several months, and while there has been some progress made, there is no agreement just yet. President Donald Trump has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and while this may seem like it could impede stimulus efforts, one prominent party in the negotiations believes it could have the opposite effect.
The long-awaited second stimulus check
Lawmakers have been trying to come to a compromise on a new coronavirus relief package for months. Some of the most important provisions of the CARES Act, such as enhanced unemployment benefits and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses, have expired. And initial talks broke down in August.
However, talks between the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress have restarted. There is still some disagreement -- particularly when it comes to the price tag of a bill. Republicans have reportedly offered a package worth around $1.6 trillion, while the bill recently passed by the House of Representatives would cost $2.2 trillion. There is significant disagreement on several key issues, such as aid for state and local governments and the size of the unemployment benefit boost.
One area that both sides seem to agree on is the need to send a second Economic Impact Payment -- more commonly referred to as a stimulus check -- directly to Americans.
The just-passed House bill calls for a second stimulus check in the same amount as the first. It would send $1,200 to every qualifying taxpayer and $500 for every dependent, using the same income qualification standards as the first check. And this would actually send more money to many Americans, as it defines full-time students age 24 and younger as well as adult dependents as eligible for the $500 payment.
One important point to know is that although no compromise has been agreed upon yet, there have been no reports of Republican negotiators pushing back against this proposal at all. Both sides are in favor of a second stimulus check.
Could the President's COVID-19 case make a difference?
Despite the President's positive coronavirus test and reports that he is experiencing mild symptoms of COVID-19, it doesn't appear that the virus will negatively affect stimulus efforts. In fact, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows reported that Trump's first question to him this morning was about the economy and curiosity on the status of stimulus talks.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi thinks the President's situation could get things moving faster. "This kind of changes the dynamic because here [Republicans] see the reality of what we have been saying all along. This is a vicious virus," Pelosi said.
Will a second stimulus check actually happen now?
To reiterate, there are still some key differences Democrats and Republicans will need to work out before a second stimulus check can become a reality, and it's likely to take at least a couple weeks to actually get it in the bank accounts of Americans, once a bill is passed by both chambers of Congress and the President signs it into law.
Pelosi seems to be optimistic that a deal will ultimately get done, saying that it is the responsibility of legislators to find the middle ground, and that she is confident that it can be done. And while no deal has yet been reached, this is the most optimistic both sides have sounded about a stimulus deal since talks first broke down in August.