Here's What a Democrat-Led Senate Means for Stimulus

U.S. Capitol Building.

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With the Senate likely in the hands of Democrats, can you expect another check?

On Jan. 5, a runoff election in Georgia determined who would take the state's two Senate seats.

This contest was critical to the Biden administration's ability to implement its agenda, because the outcome of the two elections determined control of the Senate. If the Republicans had held either seat, the party would retain a majority.

As of Jan. 6, both races have been called, and Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are expected to head to the Senate. The Democratic Party will control the Executive Branch and both chambers of Congress, because the 50-50 split in the upper chamber gives Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote.

That means the chances of another generous coronavirus stimulus bill passing are extremely high. And odds are good the next bill will include $2,000 checks for most Americans.

Another coronavirus stimulus bill is almost definitely in the cards

For months, Democrats have argued that a broader stimulus package is essential to provide the help that struggling Americans need. The House of Representatives, under Democratic control, even passed a $3 trillion bill called the HEROES Act, as well as a subsequent scaled-down $2.2 trillion relief bill.

Neither received a vote in the Senate, because Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked them. Senator McConnell and many on the right argued that no subsequent stimulus package should have a price tag of more than $1 trillion. Republicans also objected to provisions of the Democrats' bills beyond the price tag, including billions in aid to state and local governments, and larger unemployment benefits.

With the Senate in control of the Democrats, McConnell will no longer be the majority leader, and will not have control of what comes up for a vote. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer will take over McConnell's powerful position, and it's all but certain a large-scale stimulus bill will be a top priority.

That's good news for Americans hoping for another stimulus check beyond the $600 check currently being delivered. Any bill that passes is likely to include $2,000 stimulus checks, because the House of Representatives recently passed a bill calling for them. These larger checks, also a policy priority of President Trump, have the support of key figures on the left, ranging from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to progressive stalwarts including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders.

While legislation may still be subject to a filibuster and then require the votes of 60 senators to advance, it is possible nine Republicans will vote yes on a broad stimulus package -- especially since some moderates have argued more relief is needed even after the recent passage of the $900 billion relief bill.

However, even if another stimulus bill can't get 60 votes, it's possible that Democrats could use a process called "reconciliation" to pass it. Reconciliation allows for the passage of spending-related bills through a fast-track process requiring just a simple majority. And Speaker Pelosi has suggested that this technique could be used to provide essential stimulus funds.

All of this makes it extremely likely that more money will arrive in Americans' bank accounts -- although it could take some time for the legislative process to get it there.

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