Senate to Vote on Limited Stimulus Bill This Month as Larger Relief Talks Fail

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on Oct. 14, 2020

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$20 bills fanned out behind the U.S. Capitol building.

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Stimulus negotiations have failed repeatedly. Will a limited stimulus package go through instead?

For months, lawmakers have been haggling over a stimulus package that's supposed to deliver much-needed relief to the American public. But negotiations have gotten nowhere since summer. At this stage of the game, it may be time to take a different approach.

In fact, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday that lawmakers will vote on a limited coronavirus stimulus bill this month. To be clear, this will not be the much-debated all-encompassing relief bill. Rather, it will be a more targeted measure that includes:

  • Another round of Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses
  • Financial aid for schools
  • Boosted unemployment benefits
  • Liability protections for businesses

The limited bill does not include a second stimulus check -- perhaps the single most anticipated and needed relief measure. That's unlikely to go down well with many, many Americans facing financial stress and grappling with reduced incomes.

Will a limited stimulus bill pass?

When the Senate convenes on Oct. 19, one major order of business will be a procedural vote on a scaled-back coronavirus aid bill. The purpose of the bill is to quickly provide aid to Americans who need it most -- notably, small business owners as well as the jobless.

But Democrats may not agree to this new proposal. In fact, they've rejected any offers that come across as piecemeal relief. Instead, they've made it very clear they not only want a complete stimulus bill, but a robust one at that.

Days ago, Republicans proposed a $1.8 trillion relief package that fell about $400 billion short of the bill Democrats passed in the House earlier this month. But Democrats have argued it doesn't provide enough comprehensive relief.

Indeed, this limited coronavirus stimulus bill is the opposite of comprehensive relief. It comes on the heels of a tweet by the president that specifically says "go big or go home" in the context of a stimulus deal. President Donald Trump recently claimed that he wants to see a stimulus package that's more generous than what both Democrats and Republicans have proposed.

While a limited stimulus bill would, if passed, provide some near-term aid, it ultimately won't offer the same degree of relief as the CARES Act, which was passed into law in late March.

Should Americans give up on a second stimulus check?

If there's one thing Democrats and Republicans seem to have agreed upon from the start, it's the need for a second round of direct stimulus checks. But the new limited relief bill doesn't feature stimulus checks, and that's something Americans have every right to be concerned about.

Initially, the hope was that lawmakers would manage to get more money into the public's bank accounts prior to the November election. At this point, that money may not go out for the remainder of 2020 -- if it goes out at all.

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