Early voting has already started in some states, so White House negotiators and Democrats have just a couple of weeks to come up with the next bill to help people affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This as long as they want to send a new round of checks before people cast their vote.
Both sides support the idea of sending another economic stimulus check. This week, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will go to Congress to show his support for sending more financial aid.
“Household spending appears to have recovered by about three-quarters of its previous decline, partly due to federal stimulus payments and the expansion of unemployment benefits,” Powell said on September 22. “However, both employment and economic activity in general remain well below pre-pandemic levels, and the way forward remains very uncertain.”
If more aid is sent before and not after the election, how long do lawmakers have to pass a new bill? Here are some possible dates for approval and also identify at least five scenarios that might develop in the coming days.
Could a law be passed by November 3rd?
The Senate is scheduled for a recess that will begin after October 9 and extend until after the November 3 election. If nothing changes, October 9 would be the last day for the Senate to pass a new bill, although this does not mean that a new bill cannot be passed later.
The House, for example, is ready to postpone the start of its next recess, originally scheduled to begin on October 2. If the bill is passed by the Senate no later than October 9, the House could pass it after that date. And if negotiators approach an agreement, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell could also force the Senate to stay in session longer, or return sooner to vote on a proposal.
Still, a new bill is unlikely to be passed days before the election, as candidates — including President Donald Trump, who will have to sign the proposal to make it law — will have to complete their election campaigns
The dates mentioned above are based on Congressional voting times, the possibility of postponing planned recess, or the House returning earlier to pass a bill.
According to the Treasury Secretary’s comments, Steven Mnuchin the IRS could begin sending the checks by November 3 if a new bill is passed before the third week of October. (Here’s what you need to know about eligibility.)
After failing in August, formal negotiations to discuss a new general bill have not been restarted. The total figure of the bill is the point of disagreement. The White House has hinted that it could raise the proposed figure to $1.5 trillion, while Democrats have also lowered the figure of their initial proposal from $3 trillion to $2.2 trillion. (The failed Republican bill was between $300 billion and $650 billion.)
Congress could pass independent laws
Some in Washington suggest that instead of working on passing a general law, lawmakers could pass a number of small laws. There is growing support among some members of the House of Representatives to pass a smaller bill to continue solving other problems, Politico reported.
However, Pelosi has strongly opposed the creation of smaller laws and is determined on the idea of passing a comprehensive bill.
The Senate made an attempt with the proposal, called the U.S. Immediate Relief To Families, Schools, and Small BusinessEs Act (PDF), but did not have the necessary votes for approval. The House also introduced a fragmented bill that seeks to provide funds to the U.S. Postal Service before the election, in which many people are expected to vote by mail.
The president could sign several executive orders
Stimulus package update: Trump pushes for ‘larger’ COVID-19 relief bill, prioritizing $1,200 checks https://t.co/aHTqUrpP9o
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) September 17, 2020
After the talks failed on August 7, Trump signed an executive order and three memos on August 8. More executive actions may be signed.
During a press conference in early September, Trump said the government could consider another executive action to offer $300 billion in aid on an unused account for Americans, if Congress does not vote to redirect those funds. However, nothing else has been said about this.
Trump’s current COVID-19 relief executive actions range from banning evictions to extending unemployment benefits and postponing payroll taxes until next year.
Negotiators could postpone approval of an economic package until after elections
With the November 3 election two months away, Washington might be too busy to pass more bills, and leaders could see what happens after the election.
With 470 seats in the U.S. Congress (35 seats in the Senate and 435 seats in the House) for the November election, any changes to the majority of the House or Senate, and the presidency itself, could change the likelihood that certain laws will be passed, one way or another.
The government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic plays an important role in the election campaign at all levels. If no agreement is reached soon, the issue of a new economic package could very well arise during the discussions in the coming weeks.
If the conversations fail…
We believe this option is the least likely, but it is still a possibility.
Unemployment remains at worrying levels and a housing crisis is approaching. Without action on a new economic package, individual bills, or executive orders, the economy could plunge into a deeper recession, as economists say the damage is already reflected in the Great Recession of the late 2000s.
For more information, we discussed how soon you could get a second economic stimulus check and compared the HEALS, CARES and Heroes bills.