President-elect Joe Biden wants Congress to pass a bipartisan $908 billion stimulus package, set to be formally introduced early this week, after months of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans failed to reach a compromise.
The new bill would hopefully be passed ahead of the upcoming year-end termination of benefits and protections for millions of Americans — but it might not include stimulus check 2.
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"I'm not alone in saying this situation is urgent — if we don't act now, the future will be very bleak," Biden said on Friday (Dec. 4).
While the bill is expected to include $300 per week in targeted federal unemployment benefits, it does not currently provide any money for stimulus check 2, a deliberate omission that would keep total spending in line with what Senate Republicans are willing to agree to.
Many lawmakers have expressed optimism about the deal, but others of both parties — including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) — have said they will not support a proposal that lacks a second round of $1,200 payments. Even Biden said the bill "would be better" with stimulus checks.
Although the current proposal leaves out stimulus check 2, it does include unemployment relief, rental assistance and Paycheck Protection Program funding for small businesses. It would also extend eviction moratoria and keep student loan payments on pause.
Remaining sticking points include liability protections for businesses (a Republican priority) and generous funding for state and local governments (a demand from Democrats).
Who is on board?
The $908 billion proposal was conceived by a bipartisan group of centrist senators, including Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Mark Warner (D-Virginia).
So far, neither House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) nor Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has explicitly stated support for the new bill. However, both have agreed on the need to combine stimulus relief with a larger annual spending package that must pass by Dec. 11 to avert a government shutdown, Politico reports.
"There is momentum — there is momentum with the action that the senators and House members in a bipartisan way have taken," Pelosi said Friday.
Hope for stimulus check 2
While the current proposal doesn't include a $1,200 stimulus check, tacking on a provision for new checks hasn't been ruled out entirely. In addition to several lawmakers pushing for another round of direct payments, Biden has said they "may still be in play."
Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) have also hinted that the checks could be added into a final bill. If that's the case, money could hit bank accounts before the end of the year. If not, cash payments would likely be held up until February after Biden takes office — or never.
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Emily Long is a Utah-based freelance writer who covers consumer technology, privacy and personal finance for Tom's Guide. She has been reporting and writing for nearly 10 years, and her work has appeared in Wirecutter, Lifehacker, NBC BETTER and CN Traveler, among others. When she's not working, you can find her trail running, teaching and practicing yoga, or studying for grad school — all fueled by coffee, obviously.