The Current Negotiations for A New Stimulus, and What That Could Mean for Millions of Americans

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Photo by Jorge Alcala on Unsplash

Like many Americans, 8 million of which have sunk into poverty as of June 2020 due to the pandemic, you may be anxiously waiting for some further stimulus support from the federal government. Even though a direct payment of $600 eventually passed, it took months of back-and-forth negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in the House, Senate, and Oval Office to finally reach an agreement; and the truth is for many it simply is not enough.

But the fight is not over, with some Democrats and Republicans, including Donald Trump, calling for a singular bill that would increase the stimulus to $2,000.

This aid is more of a survival measure than a way to stimulate the economy. Millions of Americans are suffering, with months of inaction creating a whirlwind of disaster that is devastating the country. The current stimulus seeks to mend those wounds. Providing money to those in need, it strives to extend both unemployment and eviction protections as well as aid for small businesses. Throughout the pandemic, 86 million Americans have filed for unemployment. Unfortunately, with the bill passing after the Dec. 26th deadline, 12 million Americans lost their unemployment benefits and may not be able to get them back. Extensions on these life-saving measures are essential. Without these provisions, more people will suffer, and any action would be better than silence.

While the proposed bill would increase the current $600 benefit to $2,000 and has broad support amongst the populace, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has publicly dissented against this measure. Although, Senator McConnell will no longer be in that position as the Democrats take both seats in Georgia. While McConnell tried to “poison” past negotiations with unpassable legislation meant to tank discussions, that’ll no longer be the case. The specific “poison pill” was a full repeal of Section 230. Repealing Section 230 would no longer shield tech companies from legal liability over content that they or their users post to their sites and has been a hotbed of discussion lately, with Trump himself sought its repeal for months. Trump went as far as vetoing the $721 billion defense authorization bill if Section 230 was not nullified. Yet it was all for naught, as McConnell and Republicans will now be the minority in Congress with the Democrats poised to establish their power. If Democrats are true to their word, an expansion for the stimulus is on its way.

Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Senator from Vermont, is another key figure that made a direct stand to increase the stimulus. Sanders, took advantage of Trump’s previous veto on the defense bill, filibustering on the Senate floor to uphold Trump’s veto if a vote wasn’t held on increasing the stimulus. The senator stated, “Let me be clear: If Sen. McConnell doesn’t agree to an up or down vote to provide the working people of our country a $2,000 direct payment, Congress will not be going home for New Year’s Eve.” That time has passed, and other than spoiling McConnell’s holiday vacation, a senate vote did not come to fruition. Although Sanders, and others, demonstrated that there are members of congress unhappy with the current aid for the American people, and as Democrats have taken the majority, his goal could be achieved. Trump also postured support through Twitter to Sanders, saying, “Give the people $2,000, not $600. They have suffered enough!”

Whether it’s $2,000 or $600, Americans are struggling and need help. It’s unlikely to be the last talks on stimulus, as long as the pandemic threatens millions. The vaccine, fortunately, is rolling out, yet that does not mean it is over. It’ll be months until we can rejoice, and until then the government will continue arguing over Americans’ needs.

(Contributed by Sean Duffy, Content Writer Intern with VotingSmarter)

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