BREAKING NEWS: Second Stimulus Check? Extended Unemployment? UPDATE!
The deadline for Congress to agree on a second stimulus check passed yesterday. All that means is that they’re in recess right now and probably will not vote again until next month. However, they aren’t technically out of session, so they could be called back to vote before then.
Second Stimulus Status
Originally called the CARES 2 Act, a second stimulus is in the works to help Americans through the Coronavirus Pandemic. The Republican-controlled Senate proposed the HEALS Act in July, after House Democrats passed the HEROES Act in May. The points that each side wants are outlined in our article: Stimulus Check: Are You Eligible? What YOU Need to Know! These points include extending unemployment, eviction protection, a second stimulus check, payroll protection, and much more.
Can a Presidential Executive Order Extend Stimulus?
With congressional Democrats and White House negotiators so far unable to agree on a deal to help Americans during the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump has threatened to bypass Congress with an executive order. On Friday, he said his team is working on pushing these things through. But, can the president do this? Does he have the power to order a second stimulus? The short answer is no. Only Congress can pass bills which spend money.
However, the longer answer is that he can sign executive orders. Whether they stand up is another story. Congress can override a veto but that would take consensus. And, Congress has proven they don’t agree on much. So, it remains to be seen what will happen and when. If Congress didn’t override the EO, then it would no doubt go to court. But, that could take months.
What’s the Problem?
Democrats and Republicans want different things. And, some simply do not want any stimulus at all. At this point, they have not reached an agreement. And, Friday was the last day to do so before a month-long recess.
What Else Could Be Covered in a Second Round of Economic Stimulus?
Remember, this is still being negotiated in Congress. But, here are some things they’re discussing:
- Unemployment benefits: The $600 extra per week included in the CARES act came to an end on July 25. However, the HEALS act has proposed continuing the extra pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA) at the rate of $200 per week through October. And, then moving to a system that will pay a percentage of – but not to exceed their normal wages.
- Liability shield: a five-year “liability shield” meant to protect businesses, universities, schools and hospitals from being sued over coronavirus-related damages.
- State aid: allows states to use existing $150 billion pot of funds from the CARES act in a more flexible manner, such as closing their massive budget deficits – which was previously prohibited.
- Education funding. This would include funding for K-12 as well as higher education.
- Paycheck Protection Program: including small business loans to help companies continue to pay their employees. The program also faced some criticism for benefiting large firms such as the Los Angeles Lakers and Shake Shack, although many of the most controversial loans were promptly repaid.
- Health funding: this includes funding for testing, as well as funding for National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Business Tax Deduction on Meals: the legislation offers a 100 percent deduction on business meals through the end of 2020. Although critics point out that few businesses are paying for their employees to eat out during the pandemic.
Missing from HEALS Act; Included in HEROES Act:
- Hazard Pay for Essential Workers: one big negotiating point is adding hazard pay for essential workers.
- Eviction protection and bill collections protections: included in the HEROES act passed by the House in May, but is not included in the Senate HEALS act currently being debated.
- Food stamps: also being discussed.
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