CORONAVIRUS

Unemployment benefits: How much will it be with new democrat proposal?

Trying to get Republicans back to negotiating table the Democrats release an updated version of their HEROES Act to be voted on perhaps as early as this week.

Unemployment benefits: How much will it be with new democrat proposal?
ERIN SCOTT REUTERS

On Tuesday the Democrats unveiled their pared-down version of the HEROES Act to provide much needed stimulus to the U.S. economy. The day before Nancy Pelosi in a letter to her caucus explained "Democrats are making good on our promise to compromise with this updated bill, which is necessary to address the immediate health and economic crisis facing America's working families right now. " She has been under pressure from more moderate Democrats to reach deal as the election around the corner.

Stalemate

The originally $3.4 trillion bill has been stuck in the House since May when the original version was passed but then ran into a brick wall in the Senate, where Mitch McConnell said it was a "dead on arrival." The Republicans produced their own Skinny Bill in September, which came with a price tag hovering around $1 trillion as portions of the CARES Act were expiring or had already. However, that bill was voted down in the Senate as Democrats and a single Republican Senator, Ran Paul (R- Kentucky), rejected it.

Highlights of the new HEROES Act?

  • $1200 Second Stimulus Check, plus $500 per dependent.
  • $600 weekly unemployment benefits until 31 January, retroactive to 6 September.
  • $436 billion in funding to states and local governments.
  • Extending the Payroll Protection Program for small businesses
  • Funding for airline workers to avoid furl

Meeting in the middle

The Democrats felt the Republican bill lacked funding for the states and local governments and unemployment benefits for Americans affected by the crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. With this $2.2 trillion bill the Democrats hope to meet the Republicans halfway so the Republicans would return to the negotiating table. In order to reduce the cost, provisions have been put in place to reduce the length of time of certain provisions.

Can a deal be made?

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated that he was willing to negotiate after he and House Democrats reached a stopgap deal to fund the government and avoid a shutdown. Mr. Mnuchin and Speaker Pelosi had been in negotiations to bridge their differences. They had met over the past two days to hammer out a deal on the fourth Covid-19 relief package since the start of the pandemic. The house had been set to vote on the proposal Wednesday night but that was postponed to give more time to negotiate.

Where the two sides differ

Mr. Mnuchin's proposal is $1.6 trillion and there is some significant distance between where the White House is willing to go and the House Democrats proposal. In his package Mr. Mnuchin is offering $400 per week in in unemployment benefits, $200 less than the Democrats. Also, state and local governments would only get $250bn, nearly $200 billion less. These are amounts that the Democrats said would be unacceptable.

 

Whether or not Americans waiting for unemployment assistance will get any depends on if the two can find middle ground and the Senate Republicans are willing to accept it.