October 31, 2020
New Heroes Act passes with stimulus checks and more unemployment benefits: What now?

Stimulus bill negotiations continue: What we know about stand-alone checks and airline aid


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


Sarah Tew/CNET

Can the White House and Congress find a path to more stimulus aid before the end of 2020? President Donald Trump — who is currently being treated for COVID-19 — called off negotiations Tuesday for a comprehensive stimulus package and then quickly urged Congress to turn its attention to stand-alone rescue bills for airline bailout aid, small businesses and a second stimulus check for $1,200. On Fox Business Thursday morning, the president said he is negotiating “a bigger deal” than just the airline package and that talks are “very productive.”

With first-time unemployment claims over 800,000 again last week, the need for more assistance for Americans and companies struggling through the coronavirus-induced recession remains acute. Economists across the country, including Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, have warned of dire consequences to economic recovery and livelihoods if no aid arrives — or not enough.

“Well, it’s hard to see any clear sane path in anything that [Trump] is doing. But the fact is that he saw the political downside of his statement of walking away from the negotiations,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday. “All he has ever wanted in negotiation was to send out a check with his name printed on it. Forget about the virus.” Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continue to speak about a stand-alone bill to assist the airline industry.

While Pelosi rejects a stand-alone stimulus check bill without a commitment to a broader bill, even if it doesn’t happen “at the same moment” as stand-alone legislation. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, has also called to return to a larger stimulus bill: “Strongly recommend all my colleagues and President @realdonaldTrump look at the House Problem-Solvers bipartisan $1.5 trillion stimulus relief package. It has many good things for individuals and businesses,” he tweeted Wednesday.

Why did Trump call off the bigger stimulus package and what’s the revised timeline for a new bill to pass? We’ll share what we know about the suddenly tenuous future of negotiations and will update this story often as news develops.


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Why did Trump pause stimulus talks?

Earlier this week, Pelosi said negotiators would reach a deal on a comprehensive package “one way or another,” despite sticking points. So why did Trump pull the plug?

With Election Day 26 days away, the reasoning Trump shared included his belief that a deal on a stimulus package wouldn’t be reached and that he wanted the Senate to turn its attention to the nomination of Supreme Court associate justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett, the president’s pick. It’s been suggested Trump and fellow high-ranking Republicans who tested positive for COVID-19 acquired the coronavirus on Barrett’s nomination day, at events where mask wearing was not universal. 

The Senate, which paused in-person floor votes until Oct. 19 after three Republicans tested positive with COVID-19, is already moving forward on Barrett’s nomination in committee meetings, which can take place remotely. Prior to Trump’s tweets, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had said his chamber would reconvene to vote on a stimulus package if a deal was made.

And a tweet from Trump early Tuesday expressed a desire for more aid clearly: “When, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business,” he tweeted.

On Thursday, however, in an interview on Fox Business, Trump said, “We are starting to have very productive talks” on more fiscal aid, specifically pointing to airline assistance and $1,200 stimulus checks.

When could a new coronavirus relief bill pass if nothing happens prior to Nov. 3? 

Pelosi said Tuesday evening that Congress could pick up the thread on another economic rescue package following the election. Trump, however, is urging action now. We’ve suggested five possible dates, based on the new timeline, both before and after the November election. These are speculative only. In the case of a second stimulus check, here’s how quickly we think the IRS could send one.

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

House votes Senate votes President signs
Oct. 19 Oct. 20 Oct. 21
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 recently pass a new stimulus bill? What’s the story?

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.

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


Angela Lang/CNET

Why did the House pass Heroes 2.0 if talks were 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.

Where do Democrats and Republicans agree?

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, coronavirus testing and extending the Paycheck Protection Program for businesses.

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


Sarah Tew/CNET

With talks halted, could the president take executive action?

After talks originally collapsed on Aug. 7, Trump signed an executive order and three memoranda the following day. It’s possible more executive actions could be forthcoming if this final attempt at negotiations fails before the election, though there’s been no development after Trump first suggested his administration might consider another executive action to bypass Congress. 

It’s unclear if Trump would pursue more unilateral action at this point.

Pelosi expressed doubt about Trump’s ability to use executive orders for additional relief funding.

“No. No. He can’t do this by executive order,” she said Oct. 5. “He can’t do the money without the Congress of the United States. The power of the purse begins in the House.”

Trump’s previous COVID-19 relief executive actions address trying to slow evictions, extending unemployment benefits to a lesser degree and deferring payroll taxes until next year.

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.





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