Democrats and Republicans in Congress both claim they want to pass a new federal stimulus bill before President-elect Joe Biden takes office Jan. 20. The only question is whether lawmakers can find the political will to compromise on a relief package that is desperately needed as coronavirus cases surge nationwide.
With the Senate and the House of Representatives back in session for the final days of the 116th Congress (new members will be sworn in Jan. 3), it would seem that both parties would be motivated to find common ground on a relief package. But the issues that have stalled a stimulus bill previously still remain: the size and scope of the package, and whether most Americans will receive a second round of stimulus checks.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and fellow Democrats have been pushing for passage of their $2.2 trillion Heroes Act that includes additional unemployment benefits for millions of Americans as well as a second stimulus check of $1,200.
Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, want something much smaller, in the range of about $500 million.
Where is President Donald Trump in all of this? It’s hard to say. Prior to the election he suggested a total spending plan of $1.9 trillion — remarkably close to the Democrats’ proposal — but has since backed off. Two weeks ago, he tweeted that a bill should be passed, but said only that it should be “big” and “focused.”
It’s time for the real leaders to step forward and work on a compromise.