Second round of $1,200 stimulus checks BLOCKED as today’s shutdown deadline looms

A SECOND round of $1,200 stimulus checks has been blocked as today’s shutdown deadline looms.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson blocked an effort to deliver the coronavirus crisis checks to Americans, citing deficit concerns in the final weeks of the Trump presidency and arguing the relief should be targeted.


Missouri Republican Sen. John Hawley attempted to get "unanimous consent" and the cooperation of every senator to pass the bill but was blocked by Johnson.

Hawley, together with Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, sought to attach the plan to a must-pass bill to keep the government open, with funding set to expire at midnight.

"What I'm proposing is what every senator has supported already, this year. … What I'm proposing will give working folks in my state and across this country a shot … at getting back up on their feet," Hawley said.

'SHOTGUN APPROACH'

However, Johnson objected on the grounds it was a "shotgun approach".

"I completely support some kind of program targeted for small businesses … So what I fear we're going to do with this bipartisan package and what the senator from Missouri is talking about is the same thing, is a shotgun approach," he said as reported by The Hill.

Johnson, a Trump loyalist, raised deficit concerns and said the checks would be "mortgaging our children's future."

"We will not have learned the lessons from our very hurried, very rushed earlier relief packages," he added.

However, Hawley responded: "Nothing could be more targeted, no relief could be more important, than relief for working people".

"Now the senator is right," Hawley continued. "This body has spent trillions of dollars this year alone on COVID relief. We're getting ready to spend, apparently, another trillion dollars more.

"And yet, working people are told they may be last, if they get relief at all … I just urge members of these bodies, go home and try explaining that to the people of your state."

Relief packages totaling trillions were enacted by Congress before the election, but lawmakers have called for additional relief as unemployment persists and businesses are hit hard by a continued spike in infections and mandated social distancing measures.

Hawley has been pushing for Congress to pass a second round of stimulus checks before the end of the year.

The checks would be for those earning less than $175,000 per year.

Congress needs to pass the agreement, or a stopgap bill, by the end of Friday in order to prevent a government shutdown.

However, Congress looks increasingly unlikely to meet a deadline to agree on $900 billion in fresh COVID-19 aid and instead may pass a third stopgap spending bill to keep the government from shutting down at midnight.

Republicans and Democrats have been negotiating this week on the terms of a nation-wide relief package.

Talks look likely to stretch into the weekend.

That would force Congress to pass a stopgap spending bill – known as a continuing resolution, or CR – to keep the government operating for a few days after current funding expires at midnight.

Congressional leaders plan to attach the COVID-19 aid to a $1.4 trillion funding bill to keep the government open through September 2021.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said talks were continuing and remained productive, stating the Senate would remain in session through the weekend if necessary to reach a deal.

He said on Thursday: "We must not slide into treating these talks like routine negotiations to be conducted at Congress’ routine pace.

“So we need to complete this work and we need to complete it right away. That’s what I’ve said – the Senate is not going anywhere until we have Covid relief out the door.”

Lawmakers in both parties said leaders had agreed on a top-line total of about $900billion, with direct payments of possibly $600 to most Americans and a $300-per-week bonus federal unemployment benefit – which would partially replace a $600-per-week benefit that expired this summer.

It also includes the renewal of extra weeks of state unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless.

It’s the first significant legislative response to the pandemic since the landmark CARES Act in March, which delivered $1.8trillion in aid.

Since then, Democrats have repeatedly called for further federal steps to provide relief, while Republicans have sought to more fully reopen the economy and to avoid padding the government’s $27trillion debt.

President-elect Joe Biden is eager for an aid package to prop up the economy and deliver direct aid to the jobless and hungry, even though the package falls short of what Democrats want.

Republicans, too, are anxious to approve some aid before going home for the year.

Sticking points in the talks include differences over a Federal Reserve emergency lending program, how to handle eviction prevention, food aid for the poor, and reimbursements to local governments for expenses like personal protective equipment for schools.

The looming government shutdown and possible deal between the GOP and Democrats comes as the United States has seen more than 310,000 Covid-related deaths.

If a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill gets passed this weekend – the earliest people could see stimulus checks seems to be in the beginning of January, according to CNET.

The earliest possible scenario suggests that if the House passes the final bill on December 19, the Senate passes it on December 20, and President Trump signs for it on December 21 – the first direct deposits could be sent out on the week of January 4.

Following these hypothetical dates, the first paper checks could be sent out a week later on the week of January 11.

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