A last-ditch push to save stimulus checks is gaining traction

December 8, 2020, 10:15 PM UTC
For the latest information on the ongoing stimulus negotiations, please check out our coverage here.

In the latest topsy-turvy turn of events, stimulus checks may be back on the table. It appears both Democratic leadership and the White House are making a last-ditch effort to get stimulus checks added into the next economic aid package.

On Tuesday, the White House reportedly asked Republican Senate leadership to include a second round of stimulus checks in their economic aid bill, the Washington Post reported. However, the White House is asking for $600 direct payments—not the $1,200 payment sent to most Americans in the spring through the CARES Act.

This ask comes as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is reportedly “softening” to the idea of including stimulus checks in the next package, Politico reported Tuesday. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Bloomberg on Tuesday that she’d still like to see a $1,200 stimulus check in the next bill, and that it’s “up to the President.”

The White House did not respond to Fortune’s request for comment. A spokesperson for McConnell did not comment in response to Fortune’s request.

Another round of $1,200 direct payments had been looking dead in the water. Last week a bipartisan group of senators, including Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Joe Manchin, announced a $908 billion stimulus proposal that did not include stimulus checks. And surprisingly, the framework of the proposal was quickly accepted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the basis for further negotiations; up until that point she had been pushing for a $2.2 trillion package including another round of direct payments. Meanwhile, McConnell had never backed a second round of stimulus checks.

But over the past few days party leadership has started to feel pressure from their rank-and-file legislators to add the checks into the next economic aid package. On the left, Sen. Bernie Sanders is circulating a letter signed by other Democrat senators “demanding” that stimulus checks be included, Politico reported, citing the letter. Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley reportedly asked President Trump to veto any bill that didn’t include more stimulus checks, per Politico.

But even if the checks get reintroduced into stimulus proposals, it doesn’t guarantee the aid’s passage. Other stimulus items like state and local funding—strongly supported by Democrats—and COVID-19 lawsuit immunity for businesses—supported by Senate Republicans—are still major areas of disagreement and are holding up the package. On Tuesday, McConnell suggested that Congress drop both state and local funding and liability protection from the bill altogether in order to pass something quickly, but Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer promptly argued that McConnell was trying to “sabotage” the talks.

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