On Tuesday, following a weeks-long recess, members of the Senate officially returned to Capitol Hill, kicking off the session with renewed hope amid stalled stimulus relief bill negotiations. Led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican members of the chamber unveiled a new, slimmer coronavirus relief bill in an effort to end the stalemate and bring much-needed relief to the American people.
This bill, which follows the July introduction of the HEALS Act and the May introduction of the HEROES Act, had been teased in the weeks leading up to its reveal, though much about it had remained unknown. With a roughly $500 billion price tag, however, it is $500 billion shy of the GOP's initial proposal and almost more than $2.5 trillion short of the Democrats' more than $3 billion proposals. The bill, although just introduced, is already facing criticism, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a statement condemning it as legislation that "doesn't come close to addressing" the economic crisis and one that is "headed nowhere."
According to McConnell, the Senate will consider this new legislation in a vote sometime this week. At this time, it remains unclear if it has any chance of passing, as it is unknown if he has 51 votes for the bill or the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster. Keep scrolling to learn more about what is included in this new proposal, as first reported on by Yahoo Finance.
Included: Small Business Aid
According to Yahoo Finance, among the provisions included in this new legislation is small business aid, as the bill seeks to extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Doing so would allow some small businesses to receive a second, forgivable loan. The Paycheck Protection Program had first been passed under the CARES Act back in March, and while some $130 billion remains, the administration suspended the acceptance of applications when the program expired on Aug. 8.prevnext
Included: Enhanced Unemployment Benefits
Among the most pressing issues that have prompted division on Capitol Hill is enhanced unemployment benefits. A $600 weekly benefit had been enacted under the CARES Act, though it had expired on July 31. President Donald Trump in mid-August, meanwhile, renewed the benefit at the reduced rate of $300 by allocating $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund. With this money expected to run dry in just a matter of weeks, though, the GOP's new proposal seeks to extend enhanced benefits.
Under this new legislation, enhanced unemployment benefits would be renewed at the current $300 per week. These enhanced benefits would continue through Dec. 27. Democrats, however, have pushed for enhanced benefits to continue through the new year.prevnext
Included: Funding for Schools and Childcare
As America works to get children back to school amid the global pandemic, the GOP's proposal included $105 billion for schools as well as $10 billion for childcare. These numbers are similar to that of the HEALS Act (The Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools Act), which also provided $105 billion for schools. Under that proposal, this funding was to be split between K-12 and higher education, along with $5 billion per governor to use at their discretion. It is unclear if this holds true under the new proposal.prevnext
Included: Funding for Coronavirus Testing and Vaccines
Also similar to their initial proposal is funding for coronavirus testing and vaccine development and distribution, key factors in slowing the spread of the virus and returning life to normal. Senate Republicans are seeking to provide $16 billion for coronavirus testing and contact tracing and $31 billion for vaccine development and distribution.prevnext
Included: Liability Protections and Other Provisions
Perhaps most controversial is the inclusion of liability protections. Republicans have long stressed that such a provision is necessary to protect businesses and hospitals from coronavirus lawsuits. The bill also includes $20 billion for farmers and $10 billion to forgive a United States Postal Service loan. In a statement, McConnell acknowledged that this bill "does not contain every idea our party likes."prevnext
Not Included: State and Local Aid
Missing from the latest bill is funding for state and local governments. Such funding has long been a sticking point amid stimulus relief bill negotiations. Provisions for local and state government aid was included in both the CARES Act and the HEROES Act, though it had been excluded from the HEALS Act. The lack of such funding will likely continue to prove controversial.prevnext
Not Included: Stimulus Checks
Perhaps the largest exclusion from this new package is a second round of stimulus checks. An additional payment to the American people had long been supported by both the White House and Democrats, and the GOP had even included a provision allowing for a second payment in the HEALS Act. The lack of stimulus checks is already proving to be controversial among Americans, who have bombarded McConnell on Twitter demanding to know why they were neglected in this new proposal.prev