As negotiations over the next round of coronavirus-relief legislation, including stimulus check 2, remain at a standstill on Capitol Hill, attention may be shifting to what would happen if additional stimulus spending doesn't come until after Election Day.
Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee and former vice president, has already said he supports a large stimulus package that's "a hell of a lot bigger (opens in new tab)" than the $2.2 trillion CARES Act that Trump signed into law this past March.
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As Politico suggests (opens in new tab), a newly elected Biden would likely face pressure from the left flank of his own party, especially if Democrats win both the House and Senate, to spend significantly more than the proposals currently on the table and to send more money to Americans.
Biden has already pitched additional direct payments for families. A recently announced Biden policy (opens in new tab), an extension of the Child Tax Credit, would allow families with children to opt for a monthly check of $250-$300 (up to $3,600 depending on the age of the child) instead of waiting to deduct those funds from their next tax returns.
Future Democratic proposals may get closer to, or even exceed, the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act. That bill, passed by the House in May but so far ignored by the Senate, would provide another round of $1,200 checks to eligible Americans as well as a resumption of federal unemployment-benefit supplements through January 2021.
What about Trump?
President Trump has wavered in recent months on additional stimulus spending. In talks with Democrats led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin kept the administration's spending position well below that of the proposed HEROES Act.
Currently, the Democrats are at $2.2 trillion and the White House is at $1.5 trillion, yet they're unable to close that $700 billion gap. However, even the lower figure may be too high for many budget-minded Senate Republicans who were uncomfortable with their party's proposed $1.1 trillion HEALS Act.
However, Trump last week expressed support for a $1.5-$2 trillion bill proposed by the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus. The spending package, which bridges the gap between Democrats and the White House, includes stimulus check 2, funding for state and local governments and federal unemployment benefits at less than the previous $600-per-week level.
Trump also tweeted that Republicans should "go for much higher numbers" with stimulus spending, although he didn't cite any figures himself.
While all sides, including Senate Republicans, initially agreed on the merits of a second direct payment to qualifying taxpayers, several proposals have dropped this benefit. For example, the Senate recently failed to pass a largely symbolic "skinny" bill that focused on a pared-down federal unemployment program and liability protection for businesses.
Where the second stimulus bill stands
Despite Trump's tweets and the Problem Solvers bill, there hasn't been any meaningful movement on a second stimulus bill in recent weeks. Lawmakers may be moving toward additional spending as moderates push their leaders to take action, but the next steps may rest largely with Pelosi.