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Stimulus update: Phew, stimulus checks and aid look more likely

After six months of inexorable congressional deadlock over a stimulus aid bill, the vibe in Washington has changed: President-elect Joe Biden is wheeling and dealing behind the scenes in hopes of prodding Congress into an immediate aid package. Here’s what’s happening.

WHAT’S JOE UP TO?

He’s breaking rank, pushing Democratic leaders in Congress to drop their insistence on a $2 trillion bill, which has been their hill to die on for the last six months. Senate Republicans have long insisted on a $500 billion bill, though Republicans have also split rank over what that $500 billion might entail.

WHY, AFTER MONTHS OF PESSIMISM, IS THE TIDE CHANGING?

Financial cliff ahead: In late December, 12 million people lose extended unemployment, eviction moratoriums, and mortgage freezes (all from the CARES Act), all while the U.S. slides into a pandemic hell of widespread illness and lockdowns. Without immediate help, millions of low-income people will lose their incomes and homes, and that sort of economic carnage is neither tolerable to Democrats nor easily reversible in a recovery. Also, Joe’s on the scene.

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