The Senate will pass another stimulus package; what will be included in it?
The House passed The Heroes Act Friday. This bill provides, among many other things, a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks and hazard pay for essential frontline workers. Will the Senate agree to include these two provisions in the bill it eventually passes? I say “eventually” because all signs lean toward the conclusion that Republicans will end up negotiating with Democrats to pass yet another stimulus package.
Congress has already passed three different stimulus packages in response to this pandemic and, at the end of the day, the Senate will sign on and work with the House to pass a fourth one. The Republican Senate will do this for the same reason the Democratic House just passed The Heroes Act—the economy. But regardless of the reasons—and despite all the bluster—all signs lean toward another stimulus relief package getting through Congress. For now, both parties will gripe and complain, but then they will negotiate and compromise in order to work out a deal and inject more stimulus money into this declining—or at best stalled—economy.
What will the Senate include in its stimulus package?
The question isn’t will there be another stimulus deal, the question is what will be included in the deal when it’s done?
Huge majorities of Americans want more stimulus checks. Essential workers, the ones we now call American heroes, are still waiting for—and should get—hazard pay. State and local governments are telling anyone who will listen of their dire financial predicament and critical need for stimulus money to deliver basic and essential services. Far too many businesses are still shut down or only partially open. Real unemployment has reached depression-error levels, and corporate bankruptcies have begun. So the real conversation Senators are having right now is really more about what they will do rather than will they do anything more at all.
That bill may be dead on arrival, but another will get worked out.
The economy is bad—dire even—and everyone paying attention knows it, including Senate Leader McConnell and other Republicans. In response, the House put forward and passed The Heroes Act which provides a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks and $200 billion in hazard pay for essential workers. Senate Majority Leader McConnell slammed it as “dead on arrival.” But not so fast. If all you were hearing is that he said the House’s bill was dead on arrival, you might be inclined to believe that the Senate has no plans of moving forward with another stimulus relief package. You’d be wrong.
Despite all the bluster, Leader McConnell knows—just like Speaker Pelosi did—that another stimulus package is necessary, and McConnell said so Thursday on Fox News, “We all believe that another bill probably is going to be necessary.” He went on to say that he wasn’t yet prepared to commit to any precise timeline on when the Senate would take any action, but he acknowledged they will indeed need to take more action.
Americans want more stimulus checks.
Republicans in the Senate can work from a blank slate as they start their process, but they will be presented with The Heroes Act that the House passed Friday. The Senate has to decide whether it agrees to do what the House has already done and approve the following provisions, present a modified version on stimulus checks, or refuse additional stimulus checks altogether. This is what the House passed.
Another one-time $1,200 stimulus check.
Individuals will receive $1,200, married joint filers get $2,400, and children (up to three) get $1,200 with a maximum amount of $6,000.
Income limits are in place just as with the first stimulus checks Congress passed. Individuals must earn $75,000 or less per year to receive the full $1,200 stimulus check, and married joint filers must earn $150,000 or less per year to receive the full $2,400. The $1,200 amount decreases and phases out for those earning above these limits. Individuals earning more than $99,000 aren’t eligible for any stimulus amount, and couples earning more than $198,000 aren’t eligible for any amount.
In addition to the House including stimulus checks in its bill, there is also the White House which has indicated that it’s likely to support more stimulus checks as well. Surely, the Senate will consider the economy and all of this when determining how to move forward.
Essential workers want hazard pay.
Again, Republicans in the Senate can choose to work from a blank slate, but they will be presented with The Heroes Act that already provides hazard pay for essential workers. The Senate has to decide whether it agrees to add to, drop or just go with what the House has passed in this regard.
$200 billion for hazard pay to essential workers.
The hazard pay money is called the Heroes Fund.
This fact sheet describes that $200 billion will be used to “ensure that essential workers who have risked their lives working during the pandemic receive hazard pay.”
Despite all the praise being heaped on essential workers, before Friday’s passage of The Heroes Act, not a single one of the previously passed stimulus packages set aside money specifically for essential workers. Essential workers are employees, and they have been grossly overlooked up to now. The House has now passed something that considers the needs of essential workers. Will the Senate do the same?
Whatever stimulus package the Senate puts forward, it must include hazard pay for essential workers, and the House should refuse to agree to any stimulus package that removes the hazard pay provision for essential workers. If Americans indeed want to send the message that we really do value and appreciate essential workers—those we now call heroes—we have to pay them as well as thank them.
It will come down to the economy, as always.
The old adage—it’s the economy, stupid—still holds true today.
Ignore all the other hype; ignore the partisan outrage, ignore the bluster. Congress will act because it’s in the best of interest of the economy (and hence themselves) to do so. Republican Senators will consider the impact to the economy, just like Democrats did, before making any decisions about including another stimulus check or hazard pay into a new relief package.
The best guide you have to assess whether the Senate will take any action is to pay attention to the economy. Pay attention to unemployment. Pay attention to job losses and notice whether or not jobs are expected to come back. Listen closely to what employers are saying. Hone in on corporate bankruptcies and assess the impact on hiring. These factors and others will give you more insight into what Congress might do than anything any members say.
So, will the bill the Senate eventually puts forward include the two aspects most Americans want—republicans and democrats? Will it include another stimulus check? Will it include hazard pay for essential workers? Americans and our essential workers are paying attention and waiting to see what deal both chamber of Congress ultimately pass.