Coronavirus

Second stimulus check: Senate leaves without coronavirus relief deal

Hopes for an agreement any time soon over a stimulus package to help the American economy struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic were dashed as the Senate went on recess.

Second stimulus check: Senate leaves without coronavirus relief deal
ALEX WONG AFP

No second stimulus in the near future. That's the message from Washington DC as the Senate upped and left until September.

The Senate was meant to be on August recess from last Friday, 7 August, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) kept the Chamber in session this week in a bid to allow the White House and Democrats to reach an agreement over the next stimulus package to help the struggling US economy, hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Talks however are in stalemate after collapsing last Friday and today, Thursday, Senators got their way to go off on recess. They were unhappy at being called in for hour-and-a-half sessions every day, with no real business to get through, in the hopes there would be some Covid-19 stimulus movement.

Not a complete shutdown of Congress

If there did happen to be some movement on the stimulus package and votes were scheduled to try and get a bill through, the Senate can be recalled, with senators given 24 hours notice to get back to Washington.

Everything right now however points to no movement before Congress coming back after Labor Day. Although Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he was hopeful there would be an agreement this week, the only talks that have actually taken place were a call between House Speaker, Democrat Nancy Pelosi and Mnuchin, which led to nothing more than opposed statements.

"We are miles apart in our values," Pelosi said on Thursday. "Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gave a damn. That isn't the case. This is very far apart."

Where each side is on a new stimulus package

The Democrats passed the $3 trillion relief HEROES Act in the House and are keen to push for as much of its provisions as possible. Meanwhile the Republicans have backed a rival HEALS Act, with a total cost of $1 trillion. The Dems have asked the Republicans to raise the money on offer, but they are unwilling to do so.

Asked when she would speak to Mnuchin next Pelosi said: "I don't know, when they come in with $2 trillion."

In response, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said, "the Speaker wants a $2 trillion commitment from us. We're not going to give it. There are too many things, too many asks on their side that don't fit. Don't have anything to do with Covid for that matter."

Executive orders from Trump

Faced with this stalemate, President Donald Trump signed a series of executive orders, providing for extended unemployment relief among a series of other measures. There is no provision in the executive orders for further stimulus checks, due to restrictions on the funding allowed by way of such orders.