Despite the fact that a new stimulus package has been discussed between the White House and House Democrats for many months without reaching an agreement, the need for new legislation has become more important given the increase in unemployment and the increase in cases of coronavirus.
While it is clear how necessary injection of cash into the economy is at this point, and how economists have begged lawmakers to send a new round of stimulus checks, the bad news is that both Congress and the White House have not yet resumed negotiations.
A group of more than 125 economists including Jason Furman, a former top economic advisor to President Barack Obama, this week called for more direct payments.
“We urge policymakers to use all the tools at their disposal to revitalize the economy, including direct cash payments, which are one of the quickest, most equitable, and most effective ways to get families and the economy back on track,” the economists state in an open letter.
2. The President
President Donald Trump said again last week that Congress should pass a new economic plan.
"Congress must now do a Covid Relief Bill. Needs Democrat's support. Make it big and focused. Get it done!" Trump said on Twitter.
Although he did not say which particular project he supports, his administration has defended a $ 1.8 trillion package whose discussions stalled three days before the election.
The project included the $ 1,200 per person, although the Trump Administration resists direct funding for state and local governments, as well as a national plan to control the coronavirus, especially case detection and tracking.
President-elect Joe Biden is pushing for a package like the HEROES Act, the largest bill ever passed, with $ 3.2 trillion earmarked to help businesses, governments, and workers.
“Right now Congress should come together and pass a COVID relief package like the HEROES Act that the House passed six months ago,” Biden said at a press conference. "Once we shut down the virus and deliver economic meat to workers and businesses, then we can start to build back better than before."
The Democrat will not be able to take action on it until after January 20, 2021, when he takes office, but he has urged Congress to act before that.
Republicans are totally divided on this. While some agree on the need for more financial aid but may not agree on the amount of money, there are others who simply do not want a new project.
Republican leader Mitch McConnell is sticking with a project capped at $ 500 billion, which would be "narrowly directed at schools, healthcare providers, PPP and accountability reform." It would also include an additional $ 300 for unemployment insurance.
Both President-elect Biden and Democratic leaders support the HEROES Act, but during the negotiations they were willing to lower the total price tag of the bill to $ 2 trillion, making the difference with the plan proposed by Trump much less.
Before the election, Mitch McConnell had said that, if the White House and the Democrats could reach an agreement, the Republican majority in the Senate would consider the proposal. Since then, however, and despite Trump's request to pass legislation, Trump administration officials appear to have taken a backseat, leaving McConnell in charge of the negotiations.
While lawmakers aren’t able to reach an agreement, unemployment and Covid-19 cases rise and the new wave of infections could lead to new closures nationwide, making financial aid even more urgent.