Democrats have been pushing for $1200 or higher stimulus checks since May. The House passed a bill for $3.4T that included larger stimulus checks and unemployment payouts. As well as considerable funding for state and local programs. Republicans immediately called the state and local stuff ‘pork’. Despite it being used to fund things like SNAP food benefits and social programs. All they had to do was claim it went to ‘poorly funded blue state cities’ and that was all that was needed for their base to follow along.
Next: Mitch McConnell has been the sole issue for a very, very long time. The $3.4T bill is still sitting on his desk. It has not even been brought to a vote, which, as senate majority leader, is actually his job. He penned a $500B ‘skinny stimulus’ instead in September, which included zero money for state and local governments, a liability shield to protect corporations from workers that get sick from COVID, and a whole lot of nothing as far as direct payments to the people.
Mitch’s bill failed, filibustered by the Democrats in the senate. Pelosi then passed a second, smaller bill after several months of negotiations, this one totaling $2.2T. The same result: Still sitting on Mitch’s desk, collecting dust.
Stimulus Checks Getting Larger?
Now, keep in mind, while all of this was happening, the negotiations continued. Trump publicly called for larger stimulus checks, yes, but here’s the rub: The president isn’t a legislator. The Treasury Secretary, Stephen Mnuchin, who was negotiating with Pelosi, is also not a legislator. The only reason Pelosi was actually negotiating with him is because McConnell refused to come to the table – Mnuchin was literally the only avenue she had to get any kind of possible deal worked out with the GOP.
At some point, Trump/Mnuchin made a call for a $1.8T stimulus compromise. The compromise was never released to the public so there’s no way to know what was in it, but it stil contained the liability shield. It also contained wording that made it possible for Trump to have total control over a very large percentage of the money it suggested for several programs. Both of which were obviously unacceptable to the Democrats. However, before Pelosi and House Democrats said a word, there were already rumblings from Senate GOP that they were not happy with the ‘compromise’, mostly because of the dollar amount and the ‘blue state bailouts’.
McConnell panned the bill not long after, stating he’d be unable to get Senate GOP on board for a bill of that size. Two days later, he reintroduced his same $500B skinny stimulus bill for a vote, and again it was shot down. This was in mid-October.
After the Election
Flash forward to after the election, and stimulus talks resume. The GOP is refusing to go over $1T at all, Still. And Mitch reintroduced his ‘skinny stimulus’ for a THIRD vote, which, of course, failed again. At this point, Mnuchin had about $450B left from the CARES act that had not been used for the program it was intended for – that was reappropriated to the new stimulus deal. So, in reality, this $900B stimulus bill is still McConnell’s ‘skinny stimulus’. But, without the liability shield it originally contained and with the reappropriated money basically funding all of the UI/Stimulus checks. Democrats, at this point, had to cave on their demands for something larger and comprehensive. It’d been 8 months, and something was better than nothing. There was the kerfuffle about state and local initially, and eventually it and the liability shield got dropped entirely.
The bill passed the House and Senate, but was coupled with the omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2021. As we have almost no time left to pass a spending bill for next year before shit hits the fan. Everyone seemed to be in agreement, though unhappy. Democrats have been saying they want this to be a band-aid, with another Stimulus coming soon after Biden is inaugurated. It remains to be seen if that will be possible, especially with the fate of the senate still unknown.
$2k Stimulus Checks?
And then along comes Trump. He popped up on Twitter at the eleventh hour to pan the stimulus bill, claiming it gave undocumented immigrants $1800 and was filled with foreign spending he found unacceptable, and stated that he wanted larger stimulus checks AND for the excess spending to be removed.
That ‘and’ is important, and what the GOP is focusing on over checks, because ‘fiscal responsibility’ during a pandemic, sure. Also, there’s a few things I need to explain:
Undocumented immigrants do not receive ANY stimulus. Their family members with valid social security numbers, as they are legal US citizens, are able to receive the total $1800 – which is the initial $1200 stimulus check they were NOT eligible for earlier this year, plus the $600 stimulus check in this new bill.
Secondly, the ‘foreign spending’ and ‘pork’ is actually ENTIRELY in the FY2021 White House budget plan. I actually spent a couple of hours reading through the budget and collating each piece of contested spending. Trump, Mnuchin, Lindsey Graham, and several GOP members actually worked together to write this budget plan, which was released to the public in February 2020. Not only that, Trump would have been keyed in to every bit of spending in the current omnibus bill by his administration. It is necessary for any yearly spending bill.
Where are we today on stimulus checks?
And so we came to yesterday: Pelosi and the Democrats put the $2000 checks up as a standalone bill to be voted on by unanimous consent because the House was basically a skeleton crew yesterday, and the only way to possibly pass it was by UC. McCarthy rejected it. He then put the removal of foreign spending up for, again, UC, which was blocked by Pelosi.
Now the $2000 checks need to be deliberated and fully voted on once everyone is back in DC, because the UC vote failed. That will be done next Monday, I believe. It likely will pass the house and die on McConnell’s desk.
Meanwhile, tens of millions of people lose their unemployment benefits on Saturday of this week, and Trump has the ability to ‘pocket veto’ the already-passed stimulus bill, which basically means there is absolutely no way for Congress to override him if he decides to just sit on the bill until January 3rd.