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Stimulus package negotiations at a crossroads: What’s the status on a deal? – CNET

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Congress is on the clock to reach a deal before breaking for the election.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Capitol Hill is occupied with the Senate hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. And every legislator in Washington is looking to election day on Nov. 3.  With so much else happening, can negotiators find a path forward to reach an agreement on another economic stimulus package

“Nobody is waiting till February,” Nancy Pelosi said on CNN Tuesday. “I want this very much now, because people need help now.”

President Donald Trump is confident that Republicans would “go along with” a deal that the White House works out with Pelosi, despite extreme backlash

“Republicans should be strongly focused on completing a wonderful stimulus package for the American People!” Trump tweeted Monday.

Meanwhile, the White House lobbying Congress to repurpose $130 billion in unused funds from the CARES Act for additional aid. Senate Republicans are also expected to vote on a new stimulus bill Oct. 19 that could extend the Paycheck Protection Program. Neither would include another stimulus check.

However, a comprehensive stimulus bill would include a new direct payment of up to $1,200 per person and very likely a change in eligibility rules for dependents that could yield more money for families. (Here are the biggest stimulus check takeaways to know.)

Read on for more details on the bumpy path of stimulus talks. We update this story often.

Now playing: Watch this: Next stimulus checks: What to expect


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Could a standalone bill pass Congress?

Despite Pelosi’s consistent rejection of standalone bills in the absence of assurances there will also be a larger stimulus proposal to go along with it, the idea is one again being floated by the White House and Senate Republicans as a way to get get around the negotiation gridlock and deliver some aid before the election.

On Sunday, Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows urged Congress to divert $130 billion in unused money from the payroll protection program that was part the CARES Act. It would fund new financial assistance for small businesses or the airline industry. (That isn’t enough to fund stimulus checks.) The Senate may draft a smaller bill as well, which at this point is expected to be unlikely to pass the House.

As for Trump advancing another executive order like he did in August? “No. No. He can’t do this by executive order,” Pelosi said Oct. 5 when asked in an interview. “He can’t do the money without the Congress of the United States. The power of the purse begins in the House.”

Why did Trump stop stimulus talks and then double down?

President Donald Trump — while being treated for COVID-19 with a powerful steroid known to have side effects — told his team on Oct. 6 to stop negotiating on a new deal. He directed Congress instead to pass a standalone bill for another round of $1,200 checks and renew payroll assistance for the airlines and other industries. 

By Oct. 9, he was encouraging negotiators to “go big” on a new stimulus bill and on Oct. 12 he urged fellow Republicans to “pull back” on the due process for Barrett’s confirmation hearings “and go for STIMULUS for the people!!!”

According to Trump on Oct. 6, his belief that a deal on a stimulus package wouldn’t be reached in the short time left and desire to quickly confirm Supreme Court associate justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett, led to the decision. Barrett’s confirmation hearing began Oct. 12.

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Democrats and Republicans have disagreed on how much relief aid should be included in the stimulus package. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

When could a new relief bill pass, before or after the election? 

With just a few weeks before the Nov. 3 election, Congress is running out of time to pass additional aid.

If talks fizzle before Nov. 3, Pelosi has said that Congress could pick up the thread on another economic rescue package following the election. But with talks currently ongoing, we’ve suggested five possible dates, both before and after the November election. These are speculative only. If a bill does pass, here’s how quickly we think the IRS could send a second stimulus check.

When could a stand-alone stimulus bill or package pass?

House votes Senate votes President signs
Oct. 26 Oct. 27 Oct. 28
Nov. 9 Nov. 10 Nov. 11
Nov. 16 Nov. 17 Nov. 18
Nov. 23 Nov. 24 Nov. 25
Feb. 1, 2021 Feb. 2, 2021 Feb. 3, 2021

Didn’t the House pass a new stimulus bill?

On Oct. 1, the House of Representatives passed a revised Heroes Act that includes a second stimulus check and additional benefits such as enhanced unemployment benefits for tens of millions of Americans. The new House bill, endorsed primarily by Democrats, has little chance of advancing through the Republican-controlled Senate, though.

According to Pelosi, the vote on the revised Heroes bill was independent of ongoing negotiations with Mnuchin. If Pelosi and Mnuchin do agree on a new proposal, a new bill would need to be separately drafted and voted on in both the House and Senate before being signed into law. The total cost of the package and funding allocations like a child tax credit have remained chief sticking points.

Why did the House vote on Heroes 2.0 if talks are continuing?

The vote is thought to provide cover for House Democrats as they campaign without a new relief bill, much as the Senate did earlier in September for Republican members with its $650 billion skinny bill. Like the skinny Senate bill, this new House proposal has little chance of advancing in the other chamber.

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Will America pass a new stimulus bill? Both sides agree more aid is necessary.

Angela Lang/CNET

Which areas do Democrats and Republicans agree on?

Proposals from both sides include another stimulus payment of up to $1,200 for individuals who meet the requirements, among topics like aid for airlines, enhanced unemployment insurance and extending the Paycheck Protection Program for businesses.

So what happens now?

The situation is still in flux. For now, we wait to see if there are any developments. Anything could still happen. 

For more information, here’s how soon you might get your second stimulus check and what to know about the HEALS, CARES and Heroes stimulus bill proposals that could help inform a final package.