Could the Next COVID Stimulus Really Not Come Until January?

When stimulus talks broke down earlier this fall, President Donald Trump instructed Congress to pivot from finalizing such an agreement to working to confirm his Supreme Court Justice pick, Amy Coney Barrett. President Trump tweeted that stimulus talks would resume following the November 3 General Election after he won a second term.

Though Trump has yet to concede to Joe Biden and is taking legal measures to challenge the outcome of the election, his chances of overturning ballot counts remain highly unlikely. And just as the focus shifted to Amy Coney Barrett, much of the focus is now on the aftermath of the election and not on the coronavirus in the United States. It’s led some to speculate that we may not see any sort of additional stimulus until Joe Biden is sworn into office on January 20, 2021.

A Priority?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he intends to make an additional coronavirus aid package a priority now, but how soon one will become law remains a mystery. It’s especially relevant now as the U.S. is eclipsing more than 100,000 confirmed COVID-19 positive cases a day, and many businesses become anxious about staying open amid this virus surge. It’s leading some to believe that another aid package may not come until January due to the time it’s going to take to negotiate.

There’s also the fact that both Georgia Senate seats are going to a runoff election in early 2021, which will decide the fate of the Senate. Should Democrats pick up both seats, they would control the Senate thanks to the tie-breaking Vice President’s vote. If Republicans retain one or both seats, they would continue to control this chamber of Congress.

What’s the Holdup?

So why has an additional stimulus package failed to pass? It’s largely come down to money thus far. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants a large, far-reaching bill similar to the House-passed Heroes Act from last spring, while Republicans favor a more targeted one. Biden, on the other hand, seems to favor a bill more in line with his Democratic colleagues. He favors extended enhanced unemployment insurance, increasing social security payments, offering paid sick leave, presenting stimulus checks to qualifying Americans, extending student loan forgiveness (and even erasing a certain amount of student loan debt) and making COVID-19 testing and treatment free.

While questions remain, some sort of additional stimulus package is still likely. But with the virus surging, millions at risk of losing unemployment benefits and a potential housing eviction crisis looming by the end of 2020, when one will pass becomes a major question. Leader McConnell has said that another aid package will be a priority, but how long can America wait on more aid?

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