After the approval of the third round of stimulus checks in March last year, lawmakers were quiet on issuing more direct relief. However, with COVID-19 cases shattering records now, several members of Congress, as well as the White House are now weighing another round of stimulus. This new stimulus, if approved, could offer coronavirus stimulus checks to businesses.
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A recent report from The Washington Post reported that a bipartisan coalition of senators are in early talks to come up with a fresh relief package costing about $68 billion. This new relief package targets businesses that are struggling the most because of the new wave of infections. These businesses include restaurants, gyms, performance venues and minor league sports teams.
As per the report, Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Roger Wicker of Mississippi are leading the discussions in the Senate. Other lawmakers that are reportedly supporting the legislation are GOP Senator Susan Collins, as well as Democrats Maria Cantwell and Mark Warner.
"We started with restaurants, but we're prepared to expand it if we can have the necessary support," Cardin said speaking to reporters on Wednesday. "There's other industries that have legitimate concerns."
This fresh stimulus package would use new funds, as well as unused cash from previous relief measures. A report from Business Insider, citing a White House official, says that about $1.9 trillion funds are still left over from the previous stimulus law that could be repurposed.
As of now, it isn’t clear if this new stimulus package would gain any momentum without the support from more lawmakers.
Speaking to Business Insider, Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota said that he is open to a targeted relief package for restaurants, which Cramer believes is the hardest hit sector.
"I would be open to reasonable discussions in a bipartisan way," Cramer says.
White House Also Talking About Stimulus Package
Talks of a relief package come just days after two House Democrats and one Republican wrote a letter to Congress, urging the leadership to come up with a targeted stimulus package for small businesses. Specifically, the letter asks for support for small businesses operating in fitness, live events, and travel segment.
The White House is also in constant touch with U.S. lawmakers on COVID-19 stimulus funding, but believes there is no need for it now as the current economy appears strong.
"We are in a very different place than we were a year ago or six months ago," the White House spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, told reporters on Wednesday.
Whether or not Congress comes up with a new relief package would depend primarily on how long this current wave of infections lasts. Still, there is now a possibility of a stimulus package, and this is a notable reversal for Congress.
The idea of a fresh stimulus package seemed all but dead last year, when many administration officials pointed to the Child Tax Credit as an alternative to provide relief to Americans.