A stimulus deal before inauguration?

The Senate returned to Congress yesterday afternoon and they have two large items on the menu: 1) preventing a government shut down and 2) passing a stimulus package.

In order to prevent a government shut down, they must pass a spending bill before the December 11 deadline. Unlike the last spending deadline back in the fall, when lawmakers agreed to not allow it to happen, we have not seen that same firm level of agreement this time.

So more people are nervous that a shut down could happen. The good news is that the overall budget for the next spending bill has been reached and it is set at $1.4 trillion. Lawmakers just need to settle on the allocation of those funds which we know can be quite a complex task.

The other big issue on the table is of course the stimulus package.

Speaking on the Senate floor yesterday, McConnell stated that he wanted a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses and funds to streamline coronavirus vaccine distribution.

He also called out the Democratic leaders for their failure to compromise:

“The American people need more help and they need it right now.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer argued that McConnell is only interested in passing a bill that addresses the provisions Republicans support, rather than offering a true compromise.

It still sounds like the leaders of Congress have not recently met to make serious progress on stimulus talks.

The two individuals heading up to talks would be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

There are also small groups of both Republican and Democratic senators who have had some discussions but those are likely limited to the problem solvers caucus (it’s basically their job to have those type of discussions).

Despite the lack of progress, there still is some hope that a stimulus deal could be reached this month.

There has been talk about reallocating $580 billion worth of funds that have already been appropriated for stimulus relief.

If those funds could be combined with the $500 billion of additional funding that Republicans have already signed on to then there would be enough resources to cover a $1 trillion relief bill which would be more than adequate to get us through the winter.

It wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that this could happen and Goldman Sachs’ strategists already said that they think Congress is likely to enact a $1 trillion stimulus package before Biden’s inauguration in January.

So all hope is not lost.

Still, with the Georgia runoff elections still looming, I find it hard to believe that Democrats in the Senate will be willing to move before those results are in.



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