Will Congress act to help Texas before Christmas?

by | Nov 19, 2020 | Economy, Policy

This week, a video showing thousands of Texans lining up to receive food went viral. Dallasites reportedly waited up to 12 hours to receive food in time for Thanksgiving.

It’s a stark reminder for the president (preoccupied with overturning the election results) and other Texas lawmakers that they need to act now. 

If not, an estimated 12 million Americans could lose their jobless relief program benefits that are set to expire by the end of the year, the day after Christmas. 

Some federal benefits, like the additional $600 a week in unemployment benefits provided by the federal government, have already long expired. So long food bank lines are only the tip of the iceberg of misery Texans are facing. 

For now, it doesn’t look like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are even close to striking a deal.

The price tag of the overall bill appears to be the biggest hold-up. Republicans don’t want to spend more than $500 billion and Democrats don’t want to spend any less than $2.2 trillion. 

Americans don’t have a clear picture of the negotiations going on in Congress because there’s a lot to account for in these massive, shifting spending bills. At this point, lawmakers should go line by line with the bills they need to get passed, starting with another relief check.

The pandemic check, which is included in the bill by House Democrats but not in the Republican Senate version, is an easy sell. An overwhelming majority of Americans, 82 percent, already support a monthly stimulus check. And take it with a grain of salt: President Trump has previously said he would approve a stand-alone bill for a second pandemic check.
The last stimulus check cost only $290 billion and was largely used by Americans to pay for food and bills. Another check won’t solve the pandemic or rescue state and local governments from facing financial ruin, but it would be a good start to reminding Americans that the government is good for something.

Photo: Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

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