- Ansh Gandhi, AIT
What is the situation with the stimulus bill?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people lost their jobs to economic shutdowns. The unemployment rate skyrocketed to 14.7 percent in April 2020, astronomical when compared with the 3.5 percent unemployment rate only two months before, in February.
To help with the economic crisis and general uncertainty, the U.S. Congress and President Trump passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act on March 27, 2020. This act was a 2.2 trillion dollar economic stimulus bill designed to give $1,200 to every American making less than $75,000 and $500 to every child under the age of 17.
However, the economy is still struggling. The unemployment rate has sunk to 7.9 percent as of October 2020 with layoffs imminent in several industries. As financial struggles continue, many Americans have been clamoring since early June for Congress to pass a second stimulus bill. Despite repeated attempts by Congress, another stimulus bill has yet to be passed. So what is causing this hold up? Why is Congress struggling to pass a stimulus bill while seeing that many Americans are depending on it?
The issue that Congress is currently facing is the variety of perspectives on what the stimulus bill should contain. Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, want to pass a roughly two trillion dollar aid bill, which would provide the same stimulus payments as the CARES Act, but with more generous terms. It would allow dependents of any age to be eligible for the $500 payment. Additionally, the bill would include a $600 weekly unemployment benefit. On the other hand, Republicans, who control the Senate, want to pass a five hundred billion dollar aid bill, which includes a $300 weekly unemployment benefit.
Currently, both sides agree on providing stimulus payments of $1,200. However, the biggest issue the sides disagree on is the unemployment benefit. Presently, negotiations are at an impasse, as Congress has adjourned for the remainder of the year. It remains to be seen if Congress will make progress on passing a stimulus bill, which many Americans desperately need.