Relief talks appear to be making headway as lawmakers add stimulus checks back into the mix.
This week, Congressional leaders said they were nearing an agreement on a $900 billion stimulus package. According to The Hill, they could reach an agreement this week.
If Congress strikes a deal, the relief bill would likely include another round of stimulus checks, aid for small businesses, and assistance toward vaccine distribution. Schools may also receive some form of relief. Yesterday, stimulus checks were expected to be $600. Now, Congress may increase them to as high as $700.
The stimulus package is anticipated to come with other legislative efforts as well. Congress could potentially pass funding for federal agencies, a bipartisan effort to rein in unexpected medical bills, and more in a similar time frame.
This positive momentum comes as Congressional leaders race to pass a new government spending bill by midnight on Friday to avoid a government shutdown ahead of the holidays. According to the Washington Post, aides said lawmakers may pass a short-term extension to existing funding to buy more time for negotiators.
That said, given how stimulus talks have previously gone until now, there is some skepticism that Congress can reach a stimulus deal over the next few days.
The Post reported several aides saying that Senators Bernie Sander (I-VT) and Joe Manchin III (D-W.VA) engaged in a “heated exchange” over the matter on Wednesday. According to the sources, Sanders pushed for larger stimulus checks. He also criticized Democrats for giving in too easily to lowering the price tag – citing that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had previously offered $1.8 trillion versus the current $900 billion.
Meanwhile, aides said Manchin believes unemployment benefits greatly outweigh the need for larger checks. Manchin helped push out the bipartisan compromise that Sanders has criticized.
Because of these factors, Wall Street analysts forecast a bill will more likely come after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. Any deal prior to that date would offer much-needed economic support heading into the holiday season.
By DANIEL SMOOT
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