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Will Americans get direct payment in new stimulus package?

Mitch McConnell (Credit: Speaker’s Press Office)

Congress is entering the decisive days of the lame duck with a huge to-do list. The government needs to be funded by Dec. 11, and congressional leaders have yet to strike either a spending agreement or a coronavirus deal, Politico reported.

  • Backdrop: Bipartisan negotiators worked throughout the weekend to finalize $908 billion legislation, with hopes of introducing bill text for a new stimulus package today. But there are questions over whether congressional leaders will accept the proposal, as disagreements persist over aid to local governments and a liability shield for businesses.
  • Support for the average Joe: The package reportedly does not include direct $1,200 payments to Americans. Dick Durbin, a Democratic senator in the bipartisan group, told ABC News on Sunday that such payments would cost an extra $300 billion, and therefore isn’t included. Prominent progressive Democrats including senator Bernie Sanders have opposed the deal for this very reason, according to the Financial Times.
  • What’s in the proposal: The proposal includes $288 billion in small business aid, $180 billion in unemployment benefits that would boost weekly payouts by $300, and $160 billion for cash-strapped state and local governments. It would also offer aid to troubled sectors, including $17 billion for the airline industry.
  • Be Smart: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday that she saw “momentum” toward a coronavirus stimulus deal. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer once again called for relief funding after data released Friday showed U.S. jobs growth had slowed in November, while President-elect Joe Biden also called for “urgent action” on a stimulus deal, CNBC noted.
  • Even funding the government has become a question mark: Congress now needs to pass a short-term spending bill to give negotiators more time past the Friday deadline. [Politico+FinancialTimes+CNBC]

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