Democrats Just Caved on COVID Stimulus ChecksDecember 2, 2020
Democrats signaled Wednesday they'll agree to a stimulus deal that doesn't include direct payments to Americans.
Party leaders said they’re willing to restart negotiations using the $908 billion bipartisan framework introduced earlier this week, which does not include sending stimulus checks to individual taxpayers. The concession, which comes after months of stonewalling from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, also means that Democrats may accept a deal worth nearly a trillion dollars less than what the White House had offered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in October.
“In light of the urgency of meeting the needs of the American people and the hope that the vaccine presents, it’s time for Leader McConnell to sit down with Democrats to finally begin a true, bipartisan effort to meet the needs of the country,” Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement Wednesday.
However, it’s not entirely clear that McConnell or the White House will even accept a severely slimmed-down bipartisan proposal. The framework was rejected by McConnell shortly after a coalition of senators from both parties announced it on Tuesday.
The Kentucky Republican, who has previously supported a stimulus package of around $500 billion, put forth a different plan on Tuesday, which the Trump administration said it will support.
That plan would extend pandemic unemployment benefits by just one month, and offer zilch to state and local governments, according to a draft version of the proposal obtained by multiple media outlets.
“The president will sign the McConnell proposal that he put forward yesterday, and we look forward to making progress on that,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters Wednesday, according to CBS News.
As the year comes to a close, a combination of factors have come together to put legislators under immense pressure to pass any stimulus at all. The House recesses on Dec. 10, and the Senate on Dec. 18. Rates of coronavirus are spiking nationwide. An estimated 12 million people are set to lose their unemployment benefits on Dec. 26. Eviction protections and a pause on student loan payments also lapse at the end of the month.
Schumer and Pelosi said they will offer “improvements” to the bipartisan stimulus framework, but emphasized the speed at which they must act in their joint press release Wednesday.
The bipartisan proposal offers temporary liability protections for businesses facing coronavirus lawsuits, billions of dollars for unemployment insurance, plus money for state and local governments, education, transportation, and more.