Senate Passed Historic $2.2T Relief Bill! But How Long Will It Last?
Now that the coronavirus relief bill has been passed, there are no shortage of follow up questions being asked. Many are wondering how long this stimulus package is going to last. Others want to know if Congress is prepared to handle this process all over again if the coronavirus pandemic continues to pose problems well into the summertime.
The relief bill is going to provide some temporary assistance to those who are in need but how much relief does $2 trillion dollars actually buy? It’s a question that needs to be answered. The primary objective of the bill is a fairly simple one: to buy time. The economy is in peril and a free fall would take years to recover from.
The package is intended as relief for an economy spiraling into recession or worse and a nation facing a grim toll from an infection that’s killed more than 21,000 people worldwide. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, asked how long the aid would keep the economy afloat, said: “We’ve anticipated three months. Hopefully, we won’t need this for three months.”
Underscoring the effort’s sheer magnitude, the bill finances a response with a price tag that equals half the size of the entire $4 trillion-plus annual federal budget. The $2.2 trillion estimate is the White House’s best guess.
$2.2 trillion should be able to purchase a sizable amount of relief but there are some who are skeptical. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin believes that the American people should be able to avoid economic panic for at least three months. On the other hand, he is hoping that we are not able to put this idea to the test.
The infection has already killed over 21,000 people around the world and the number is only going to continue to rise. Steve Mnuchin hopes that the money does not have to last for three months but who knows, really? This is not a situation that has any sort of precedent. It’s not like we can point to the last global pandemic of this size and refer to those numbers.
We are all learning on the fly right now. The $2.2 trillion figure is not even an exact total. It represents the White House’s best guess as to how much money is actually going to go out. This best guess is designed to include some iffy incentives that were included in the bill’s final iteration.
In their rush to complete the bill, the Senate was sure to include necessary provisions that provided continued unemployment coverage to those who have decided to voluntarily resign. In some circumstances, the applicants will be able to receive more compensation than they were currently receiving from their employers.
Senate Republicans did not like this prospect and were moving to block the bill. In the end, they were willing to come to the table and offer up the necessary votes. This is great news for all Americans who were waiting to hear more about the status of the proposed stimulus package. The one time payments should provide many with the breathing room that they require.
There was a vote that would have amended the bill and aimed to cap the unemployment benefits but it was unsuccessful. The Republicans may have believed that the benefits being offered were overly generous but there is very little evidence to support this opinion. Senator Bernie Sanders immediately objected to this idea and issued a threat of his own.
Sanders said that he would be willing to place a hold on the bill if these objections were not dropped immediately, taking Senate Republicans to task in a tirade that was widely shared online. Since the bill was able to pass with an unanimous vote, this left very little room for Nancy Pelosi to block its path with any of her silly obstructions.
The 96-0 passage of the bill was praised by President Trump and he will sign it into law as soon as the House is ready to send it over to him. This may take place as soon as today but it should be signed into law by tomorrow at the absolute latest. At this time, the clock is going to start ticking on the three month deadline that was proposed by Steve Mnuchin.
This time period offers governors the breathing room that they need, as Trump’s initial Easter target date may be tough to reach. Governors all over the country are issuing orders to residents to stay at home. By taking the time to engage in the proper social distancing, the virus’ negative impact can be mitigated. The social distancing period is likely to stretch past Easter, as states look to obtain the health care resources that they need.
President Trump’s aggressive timeline for reopening the economy could set the White House on a collision course with governors and mayors who seem intent on maintaining social distancing policies beyond the president’s Easter target date if necessary.
Trump’s proposal on Tuesday to ease restrictions by mid-April came as a number of state and local governments have moved in the opposite direction, heeding the advice of public health officials to implement stay-at-home orders and close non-essential businesses to stem the rising number of coronavirus infections. …
In addition to resistance from public health officials, Trump’s aggressive timeline also faces practical obstacles. Some state and local governments have implemented far more stringent measures than the federal government’s voluntary guidelines, creating a fragmented patchwork of safeguards to limit person-to-permission transmission of the virus.
“The U.S. is not like China. We don’t have an all-powerful president,” said Lawrence Gostin, a professor of public health law at Georgetown University. “We share power between the federal government and the states.”
While the president has clear authority to rescind or alter federal health guidelines, legal experts say state and local officials are not required to follow them if their jurisdiction’s health situation warrants stricter measures.
The aggressive timeline that Trump has established could lead to a showdown with state governors who are looking to keep people home for a longer period of time. While the president has power to alter or rescind federal health guidelines, he is not able to force state health officials to follow them. Trump is aware of such limitations and if the curve is going to be flattened, the Easter goal may not be realistic.