Democrats and Republicans remain at an impasse over how much to spend on a second coronavirus relief package after a brief telephone call between the two sides, leaving the possibility of a stimulus check 2 as uncertain as ever.
In a 25-minute phone conversation on Thursday (Aug. 27) — their first in weeks — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows failed to bridge a $1 trillion gap in proposals for the next stimulus bill, CNBC reports.
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In addition to overall spending, Democrats and Republicans are at odds over the size and nature of federal unemployment aid, school funding and other issues. The Trump administration is representing the Republicans in the talks, with the backing of the Senate GOP leadership.
Pelosi has said there's "no reason" to negotiate unless administration officials are willing to spend more on relief for state and local governments, schools and the unemployed. Meanwhile, Meadows is "not optimistic" that the two sides will come to a consensus until after September.
As Democrats and White House negotiators continue to put off talks, other lawmakers are putting pressure on Pelosi to move forward. A group of 17 House members from the moderate Blue Dog Coalition signed a letter last week urging party leaders to start talking to Republicans again during last weekend's impromptu reconvening of the House to pass a post-office-funding bill, but that didn't happen.
Groups in both the House and Senate are considering "skinny" legislation that would separate stimulus-check proposals, an issue on which both Democrats and Republicans generally agree, from the other relief proposals on which there isn't much agreement. Breaking that logjam could possibly clear the way for at least some benefits to reach Americans soon.
What's happening with stimulus check 2?
The formal proposals already put forward in both the House and Senate, including the HEROES Act and the HEALS Act, would provide another round of $1,200 checks for Americans who received benefits under the CARES Act. Both bills also would expand dependent benefits to include college students and adult dependents.
However, the "skinny" bills focus on restarting the federal unemployment insurance supplement, which expired at the end of July, though possibly at a lower rate. Neither proposal appears to include stimulus check 2.
In the meantime, a majority of states have applied to deliver a temporary federal unemployment check on top of state benefits. This $300 boost, provided under an executive order issued by President Trump earlier this month, is already being paid out in Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas.
The money taps into disaster-relief funding that had already been allocated to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. However, the extra unemployment checks are available for only three weeks of benefits, after which states will have to reapply for the program.