Senate Republicans unveiled their new stimulus plan called the HEALS Act on Monday. But, it was soon with a bevy of criticism from those on both sides of the aisle for its provisions regarding unemployment benefits. As a result, Senator Mitt Romney and other Republican senators unveiled their own proposal on Thursday that addresses this criticism.
Under the CARES Act, the stimulus package that Congress enacted back in March, Americans were entitled to an additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits. Those benefits expired on Friday. The HEALS Act would reduce that aforementioned figure to $200 per week and would then transition to benefits that would replace 70% of working wages. On Thursday, a day before the expiration deadline for the CARES Act's unemployment bonuses, Romney, as well as Republican Senators Susan Collins and Martha McSally, introduced a proposal that attempted to bridge the gap in this distribution of benefits. In a statement, Romney expressed that their proposal aims to help Americans as Congress still hammers out details for the next stimulus package.
"Unemployed workers should not be left in limbo while Congress continues to negotiate the next relief package," Romney's statement read, per Yahoo Money. "Our solution extends the supplemental benefits for three months and incentivizes states to update their UI processing systems. We should act with urgency to help the millions of Americans who are on the verge of losing these additional benefits." This proposal would allow states to choose whether to reduce unemployment benefits to a 80% wage replacement rate or to gradually reduce the benefits to $500 per week in August, $400 per week in September, and $300 per week in October.
Even though Romney, Collins, and McSally did offer up an alternative to the HEALS Act, it doesn't seem as though their proposal will garner enough support from those on the other side of the aisle. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has already voiced her opinion regarding this proposal, explaining that she does not believe that it will get enough support to pass. "God bless him for having a proposal, I don't think he can pass that in the Senate either," she said. "All of it is predicated on a lower benefit for America's working families at a time where the virus is accelerating." Pelosi also shared what she thoughts of Republicans' HEALS Act, telling reporters on Friday, "Republicans in the Senate came back with a piecemeal approach. Clearly, they — and perhaps the White Houses — do not understand the gravity of the situation. This is a freight train that is picking up steam."