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Stimulus update: What the new Senate vote means for extra unemployment and 2nd checks

The skinny bill failed as it was expected to. Election Day is less than two weeks away. Is there any hope for a COVID-19 stimulus package before November 3?

Stimulus update: What the new Senate vote means for extra unemployment and 2nd checks
[Photo: Harold Mendoza/Unsplash; Burst/Pexels]
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On Wednesday, the Senate voted on a new “skinny” stimulus package for coronavirus relief, which is not to be confused with last month’s failed “skinny” stimulus bill. This one included more weekly unemployment benefits, as well as $100 billion for schools. Here’s the latest update on what’s happening with the long-stalled coronavirus relief efforts on Capitol Hill:

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Did the skinny bill pass?

Nope. 51-44. It needed 60 votes.

Was it expected to pass?

Nope. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the bill “emaciated” and said it was a pre-election stunt by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for optics. We are now less than two weeks from elections.

Is there hope for a bill before Election Day?

Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, and Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, seem to think so. They’re deep in negotiations, homing in on a roughly $2 trillion bill—which is substantially more than Republicans want, and substantially less than Democrats want. Both Pelosi and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows describe the situation as “optimistic.” Meadows hopes to have a deal in the next two days.

Remind me again what the sticking points are?

Democrats want more funding for COVID-19 testing and tracing, as well as more school funding, and substantial monies for state and local governments.

Where is Trump on this?

He wants a “huge” bill, ASAP.

Where is McConnell on this?

He’s off in McConnelland, which is increasingly farther and farther away from America. First he broke with the White House to put forth his doomed-to-fail skinny bill this week, and then he reportedly told the White House to not make a deal on the bill before November 4. Conservatives on the ballot don’t want to be forced to either alienate supporters by voting for a large government aid package or risk going against their party and president.

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What’s going unsaid here?

Republican members of Congress don’t want to appear to be stalling a desperately needed aid bill days before elections. They would much rather Pelosi and the White House hold that honor.

Why do we care about McConnelland?

As the Senate majority leader, he controls when the bill is picked up in the Senate. And he’s being vague about when that might happen, using statements like “at some point.”

Any good news here?

Yes. Both sides still agree on more unemployment and direct payments to Americans in the form of stimulus checks. So if something passes, you will very likely get paid. Stay tuned.