Lame-duck Congress will resume stimulus package talks

Senate run-off races in Georgia will also impact economic support

President elect Joseph Biden with Mitch McConell, President Trump and Nancy Pelosi (Getty)
President elect Joseph Biden with Mitch McConell, President Trump and Nancy Pelosi (Getty)

After several long days of vote counting last week, former Vice President Joe Biden emerged as the president-elect, Republicans gained more seats in the House and control of the Senate hinges on the results of two run-off elections in Georgia.

Congress will now enter a lame-duck session, where little is typically accomplished even under normal circumstances — but these aren’t normal circumstances. The fate of another economic stimulus package is up in the air, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is moving to gather support for the GOP’s $650 billion proposal, the Wall Street Journal reported.

That proposal includes another round of small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, as well as $300 in federal unemployment benefits. But it doesn’t include a second round of direct checks for Americans or funding for state and local governments, which Democrats have been pushing for.

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House Democrats passed a $2.2 trillion bill in October after scaling back from its initial $3.5 trillion aid bill, but that proposal has made little headway in the Senate. Sen. Nancy Pelosi, the House majority leader, does not want to give up on that more expansive bill just yet, according to the Journal.

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More funding may become available after President-elect Biden takes office in January, and he has expressed support for parts of the Democratic bill, including another boosting the federal unemployment bonus and more aid for struggling small businesses and states, according to USA Today.

Biden has also proposed $7.3 trillion in new spending over 10 years, including funds for infrastructure upgrades, clean energy development and aid for Americans to buy or rent homes.

But the fate of Biden’s proposals would rest on which party controls the Senate. Currently, Democrats and Republicans hold an equal number of seats, with the results of two runoffs in Georgia in January likely deciding which party holds power.

[WSJ, USA Today] — Akiko Matsuda