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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The fight in Congress over the next round of coronavirus relief legislation is shaping up to be a long one, and that's bad news for the economy and the stock market.

Why it matters: Assistance from the government and the Fed has been an integral part of the stock market's rally since March 23.

The big picture: And, with upwards of 32 million people receiving unemployment benefits and record bankruptcies and business closures expected (as well as a possible wave of evictions from newly unemployed renters), the latest fight on Capitol Hill carries significant weight.

What's happening: The rebound and relative calm in financial markets have seemingly unraveled the spirit of unity and urgency that pushed through the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March.

  • The House, Senate and White House remain far apart on a final bill that was supposed to be put to a vote before the end of this week, Axios' Alayna Treene and Marisa Fernandez reported Tuesday.

Between the lines: “It’s a mess. I can’t figure out what this bill’s about," Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said yesterday.

  • "We have no idea what the final bill will be, and we’ll be the last to know,” Hawley added, suggesting the White House, not Senate leadership, would be negotiating with House Democrats.

What we're hearing: The U.S. economy is "still in a really bad place," Claudia Sahm, director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, tells Axios.

  • "The CARES Act was written and designed for us to be back on our feet in July. That was a mistake, to think that the world would be better. It is not and now [Congress] needs to do more and they need to do a lot more."
  • $4 trillion in aid is closer to what's needed than the Senate's $1 trillion proposal, she says.

By the numbers: The extra $600 in weekly unemployment insurance benefits that effectively expired Saturday has been called the most effective part of the CARES Act as it helped maintain Americans' income and spending despite a tsunami of job losses.

  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis found the enhanced benefits increased incomes by $842 billion in May, on an annual basis.

The last word: "There’s plenty of evidence that economic recovery has stalled, and may have taken a step backward," Michael R. Strain, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in a Bloomberg op-ed Monday.

  • "The alternative to additional recovery measures isn’t just less federal spending. It is also greater and deeper damage to workers, households and the economy overall."

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Nov 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Government gridlock would be the worst-case economic scenario

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Economically, the outcome of the election could not be worse than where we seem to be headed: A Biden presidency with a Republican Senate.

Why it matters: "Gridlock" — where the president's party doesn't control both houses of Congress — is being cheered by financial markets wary of political overreach. Stocks are not the economy, however. In the depths of a global pandemic, fiscal boldness is exactly what's needed for the economy as a whole. The problem is that political obstructionism is all but certain.

35 mins ago - Technology

Scoop: More boycotts coming for Facebook

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Leaders of the Stop Hate For Profit social media boycott group are discussing whether to organize another campaign against Facebook in light of an explosive investigative series from The Wall Street Journal, Common Sense CEO Jim Steyer tells Axios.

The intrigue: Sources tell Axios that another group, separate from the Stop Hate For Profit organization, is expected to launch its own ad boycott campaign this week.

Democrats' dwindling 2022 map

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Democrats are trying to unseat only about half as many Republican House members next year as they did in 2020, trimming their target list from 39 to 21.

Why it matters: The narrowing map — which reflects where Democrats see their best chance of flipping seats — is the latest datapoint showing the challenging political landscape the party faces in the crucial 2022 midterms.