After one week of renewed negotiations, members of congress are expressing confidence in their current progress toward delivering a pandemic relief bill in 2020. The road to a second relief package for Americans has been fraught, with opposing sides of congress unwilling to compromise on key issues for them, but now it seems like both sides are ready to collaborate seriously in order to pass a relief bill before 2021.
With one week left to negotiate a new relief bill that would become active before 2020 ends, members of congress have had to accept compromises on a number of key issues when negotiating. Here are some of the stumbling blocks they’re attempting to smooth over that could affect how you’re supported by the next relief bill.
This debate has dogged #coronavirus relief bill discussions since the beginning of the pandemic. Some members of congress think that offering financial relief to a majority of Americans should be the goal of a new relief bill, whereas others would rather have a bill that targets the parts of society that most need relief in order to keep costs lower. The inability to compromise on both sides has led to a delay for American citizens in seeing a new relief bill pass House and Senate votes.
With time ticking, both sides of the cost debate have seemed willing to relax their stances in order to reach a relief bill that represents a middle ground between, (on the low end) a $500 million price tag and, (on the high end) a $2 trillion price tag. At nearly $1 trillion, the current proposed bill represents a worthy compromise for both sides.
A lower cost bill means less government spending, which supporters of a restrained relief bill say would save federal funds and could contribute to a lower tax burden for citizens down the line. A more costly, yet more comprehensive relief bill would provide more financial assistance to citizens and organizations that need money now to stay afloat, however, which proponents of a larger bill say is a more pressing need in the short term.
The potential affect this debate has on you as an individual boils down to whether you need federal funds now in order to survive. If you do, you’d be more likely to support a larger bill. However, if you have tended to be financially stable during the pandemic you may worry about how this federal spending will impact your tax burden in years to come.
Aside from the cost of a new relief bill, some members of congress disagree on which specific programs should receive funding. Some members of congress think programs that most directly benefit citizens (like the widely popular stimulus payment) should take precedence over measures to protect institutions and corporations, while others believe the opposite to be true.
While all members of congress tend to agree that both tactics have benefits for Americans, their opinions on which tactic (individual or institutional support) is more effective have impacted their ability to agree on how to prioritize funding within the relief proposals they’re trying to build.
Members of congress are now making extensive compromises on either side in an attempt to draw the most funding to the programs they think will have the most overall impact on the American economy.
The newest proposed relief bill, for instance, does not include funding for a direct stimulus payment to individuals and families in order to to preserve costs within the current budget for other relief programs.
Individuals who have been counting on a stimulus payment before the end of this year will likely have to wait until 2021 to see if that program will be renewed by the next administration. While a new stimulus payment in 2020 is highly unlikely, programs that are likely to be included in the next relief bill are:
If the renewal of any of these programs would lighten your financial burden, you’ll want to track the progress of the next relief bill as it’s being negotiated and entering House and Senate votes in the near future.
In short, time is running out for Americans in need. With COVID-19 cases on the rise again and many Americans facing financial ruin, congress has attempted to come back to negotiations with renewed focus and an increased tolerance for compromise.
Members of congress understand that if another bill isn’t passed soon, the American people will suffer immeasurably as a result. In the words of a joint statement released by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer “...the need to act is immediate and we believe that with good-faith negotiations we could come to an agreement. and in the words of Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell “Compromise is within reach. We know where we agree. We can do this.”
Share your take on the recent discussions in the comments below.