Unemployment, Stimulus Check Update

In six weeks, millions of people will lose the few federal benefits from the CARES Act that remain. This includes the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs, which provided extended unemployment benefits. Additionally, student loan deferment and eviction moratoriums will also end. 

With Inauguration still weeks away, many wonder if more aid will come before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office. Is it possible that Congress will pass further assistance? According to FastCompany.com, which analyzed the likelihood of another stimulus bill, it’s not likely.

How Is President-Elect Biden Handling The Situation?

To put it gently, the former Vice President is approaching this precarious situation delicately. Until he assumes office, there is nothing he can do but encourage people to work together. During last Monday’s press conference, he refrained from placing blame on a particular person or party. 

He urged Democrats and Republicans to compromise, saying, “Refusal of Democrats [and] Republicans to cooperate with one another is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control. It’s a conscious decision. If we can decide not to cooperate, we could decide to cooperate.”

Is Congress Making An Effort Right Now?

Unfortunately, with the Thanksgiving holiday, lawmakers are on recess and won’t return for another week. In a recent report, Politico explained, “There are no conversations right now about another round of Covid relief. None. The White House is silent. The Hill is quiet. That means no new programs, no new money for Americans before the holiday season.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to raise the price tag on his $500 billion proposal, which Democratic leaders and financial experts have criticized as inadequate. On the other hand, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has pared the Hosue’s HEROES Act to $2.2 trillion but refuses to capitulate further. 

Biden has pushed for “a relief package like the HEROES Act,” which originally totaled $3.4 trillion before negotiations. Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have called McConnell to finish talks before the end of the year. 

In a letter to McConnell last week, the Democratic leaders wrote, “The COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession will not end without our help. It is essential that this bill have sufficient funding and delivers meaningful relief to the many Americans who are suffering. For the sake of the country, we ask that you come to the table and work with us to produce an agreement that meets America’s needs in this critical time.”

In response, McConnell reiterated that he would maintain his position on a “targeted rescue package” while criticizing Democrats for voting against his limited proposal. 

Then on Twitter last Wednesday, he posted, “Republicans have tried for weeks to pass another targeted rescue package. It would send hundreds of billions of dollars to schools, unemployment aid, another round of the job-saving PPP, and healthcare. Democrats repeatedly blocked it all. Let’s hope they let us make law soon.” 

If Democrats flip the Senate in January, they will take majority control, and a comprehensive stimulus package could pass just days after Biden’s inauguration. But if the GOP keeps those seats, it’s unlikely that the Senate will approve anything substantive. 

What Should You Expect?

In the past, the president-elect has waited to take office before pushing his agenda. But this time, Biden has been vocal about his plans and repeatedly called on Congress to pass more aid. According to The New York Times, if Congress remains divided after January and fails to approve a measure, Biden has considered using executive orders to push back eviction and foreclosure moratoriums.

If Congress passes a funding bill to stop a government shutdown in December, there is a chance Americans could receive another round of stimulus checks as part of the measure. And earlier this week, a group of 127 leading economists issued a letter to lawmakers. In it, they urged for “stimulus checks until the economy recovers,” and noted they are “one of the quickest, most equitable and most effective ways to get families and the economy back on track.”

This coalition is not the first to try to sway Congress. Last June, 150 economists wrote a separate letter explaining the need for more stimulus, followed by another in July from most of the same supporters. 

For now, it seems that a standalone provision for stimulus checks may be the most likely scenario. Hopefully, when Congress reconvenes, talks will resume, and more information will become available before the end of the month.

 

Source
  • Cohen, Arianne. “Stimulus Update: What Can Joe Biden Do to Push Second Checks and Extra Unemployment before 2021?” Fast Company, Fast Company, 18 Nov. 2020, www.fastcompany.com/90576975/stimulus-update-what-can-joe-biden-do-to-push-second-checks-and-extra-unemployment-before-2021.
  • Cohen, Arianne. “Stimulus Update: Phew, Stimulus Checks and Aid Look More Likely.” Fast Company, Fast Company, 24 Nov. 2020, www.fastcompany.com/90579513/stimulus-update-phew-stimulus-checks-and-aid-look-more-likely.
  • Jarvis, Jacob. “Mitch McConnell Blames Stimulus Delay on Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer after Letter Urges Talks.” Newsweek, Newsweek, 18 Nov. 2020, www.newsweek.com/mitch-mcconnell-nancy-pelosi-chuck-schumer-stimulus-package-delay-1548263.
  • Tankersley, Jim, and Emily Cochrane. “Biden Team, Pushing Quick Stimulus Deal, Prepares for Renewed Recession.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 22 Nov. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/11/22/business/economy/biden-coronavirus-stimulus-recession.html.
Ian Schindler