Senate Democrats Block Republicans' $500 Billion Piecemeal Stimulus Bill

A woman wearing an apron and a medical mask holding up a Closed sign in the window of a small business.

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Republicans are trying to pass a few relief measures in the absence of an all-encompassing bill, but Democrats aren't biting.

Will there be a second coronavirus relief bill, and a second stimulus check to go with it? Lawmakers are still working on it, but at this point, it's hard to say.

Democrats and Republicans spent much of the summer haggling over the specifics of a stimulus bill, and have struggled to come to terms on a number of key issues. These include:

  • Boosted unemployment
  • State and local aid
  • The price tag of the relief bill itself

Republicans recently introduced a $500 billion bill offering limited relief measures. These include a follow-up round of Paycheck Protection Program funds for small businesses, a $300 weekly supplement to unemployment benefits, and business liability protections. But Democrats have officially shot that attempt down, leaving the public waiting for relief.

Why didn't Democrats pass the Republican bill?

Democrats have held firm on the need for an all-encompassing relief package and don't want to approve relief measures on a one-by-one basis. They refused to advance the latest Republican bill, which only tackled a few critical issues in the grand scheme of stimulus talks. In fact, the recently failed $500 billion proposal did not include a second round of stimulus checks. That's something many Americans have desperately needed in their bank accounts for months. Ironically, the need for another stimulus payment is the one thing lawmakers have agreed on from the start.

A big reason Democrats won't agree to individual relief measures boils down to their fear of losing negotiating leverage on a larger bill. Also, Democrats have long made it clear they don't think a $300 weekly boost is enough. They want to implement a $600 weekly supplement, similar to the unemployment boost from the CARES Act.

What happens next?

Stimulus talks continue and there is still a small hope an agreement might be reached this week. Lawmakers initially aimed to get a relief bill signed prior to the November election. But the chances of that happening grow slimmer by the day. And unfortunately, it's the public that stands to suffer.

Take small businesses, for example. Many have already long-exhausted their initial Paycheck Protection Program loans. They need an immediate cash influx to avoid having to shed jobs and/or close down permanently. A second round of funding would be crucial right about now. That's especially the case for restaurants, which have been hard-hit during the pandemic and may see their revenue decline further when outdoor dining is paused for the winter.

Meanwhile, millions of jobless Americans not only need a solid boost to their unemployment benefits, but a stimulus check to go along with it. If lawmakers can't get their act together soon, there may not be a second stimulus payment at all this year. That's a tough pill for desperate Americans to swallow.

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