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A new Democratic plan to break the logjam in COVID-19 stimulus relief negotiations would give people $600 a week in extra unemployment benefits.
That’s the same amount that people received when the pandemic first hit. To recap: The first $600 payments expired, but then President Donald Trump authorized $300, with the option for states to kick in an additional $100 if they wanted. Most states did not, and people started getting the extra benefits again, in most cases amounting to $300 a week.
However, the federal government only authorized the extended benefits for six weeks, and that time frame has now expired (the benefits are retroactive, so some people are still getting checks).
The new Democratic plan is designed to ensure that people don’t suddenly go without. However, it faces steep hurdles because it would need to make it through the Republican-controlled Senate. For weeks, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been at loggerheads over such things as the overall pricetag on the stimulus relief package and the amount of aid to give local and state governments. With the election looming, it’s far from certain that anyone is going to budge.
Here’s what we need to know:
The Extra Unemployment Benefits Would Last Until January
If approved, how long would the Democrats’ plan for extra benefits extend? MSN reports that the benefits would run through January. The overall pricetag for the Democratic plan is $2.2 trillion.
It also includes a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks. Both sides have voices agreement that a second round of checks should be sent out, but they haven’t been able to get that done yet either.
The new Democratic plan is called the updated Heroes Act. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote in a letter, “Democrats are unveiling an updated Heroes Act that serves as our proffer to Republicans to come to negotiations to address the health and economic catastrophe in our country. This $2.2 trillion Heroes Act provides the absolutely needed resources to protect lives, livelihoods and the life of our democracy over the coming months. It includes new funding needed to avert catastrophe for schools, small businesses, restaurants, performance spaces, airline workers and others.”
She added, “It has been more than four months since House Democrats sent the GOP Senate $3.4 trillion in desperately needed coronavirus relief grounded in science and data, and Leader McConnell hit the pause button. In our negotiations with the White House since then, Democrats offered to come down a trillion dollars if Republicans would come up a trillion dollars. Then, we offered to come down $200 billion more, even as the health and economic crisis has worsened and the needs have only grown.”
Republicans Want a Plan Closer to $1.5 Trillion
Although the Democrats’ proposal represents a compromise from them on the overall amount of the second relief plan, Republicans wanted a plan closer to $1 trillion, according to CNBC.
The White House has proposed $1.5 trillion as a counter proposal.
“If it starts with a 2, it’s going to be a real problem,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Reuters on September 30.
That could create hurdles for the new plan. Republicans have expressed concern that the original $600 amount gave people a disincentive to work, so it’s likely that they wouldn’t agree to an amount that high again.
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