As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the American economy, negotiations for a second stimulus bill that could top $1 trillion have stalled in recent weeks thanks to disagreements on extending a $600 federal unemployment bonus among other issues. However, we may finally be seeing some light at the end of the tunnel as both sides say they're working hard to meet a self-imposed Friday deadline to get a second aid bill passed.
According to the Washington Post, while both sides have agreed on sending a second round of direct-payments to taxpayers the White House and Democratic negotiators have become bogged down over other issues such as additional financial aid, payroll protection and other tax breaks meant to stimulate the economy.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) told reporters Tuesday that he would probably need Democratic Senators to join him in passing whatever bill both sides end up agreeing on.
"It's not going to produce a kumbaya moment," McConnell told reporters in the Capitol. "But the American people in the end need help."
Both sides have already agreed to a second stimulus check that would be sent out to Americans who made under $75,000 last year as well as renewing the enhanced unemployment benefits and eviction protections amid unprecedented unemployment brought on by health restrictions imposed during the pandemic.
"If you're looking for total consensus among Republican senators, you're not going to find it," said McConnell. "We do have division about what to do."
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) appeared hopeful on Tuesday following another round of negotiations.
“We agree that we want to have an agreement,” Pelosi said, adding: “This takes time, and it takes specificity.”
Pelosi and Schumer have been meeting daily with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to help nail down the specifics of a final bill.
We are pleased to report that although we still have a lot of open issues, I just want to be very clear, we’re not at the point of being close to a deal, but we did try to agree to set a timeline that we’re going to try to reach an overall agreement, if we can get one, by the end of this week, so that the legislation could be then passed next week." Mnuchin told reporters on Tuesday. "We’re going to work around the clock the next few days to see if we can bridge the issues. Some issues we’ve been able to agree on, some significant issues are still open."
While there's no guarantees the two sides will come to an agreement, should the bill pass on Friday, eligible taxpayers would begin seeing a second round within the next two weeks.
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