Coronavirus

What’s in Congress' covid-19 relief proposal without stimulus checks?

A new bipartisan stimulus bill is progressing through talks in Congress, but it does not include direct payments to individuals. Here's what is included.

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A new bipartisan stimulus bill is progressing through talks in Congress, but it does not include direct payments to individuals. Here's what is included.
NICHOLAS KAMM AFP

On Wednesday government lawmakers passed funding for the government for an extra week to give Congress a little more time to reach an agreement on economic relief dealing with the coronavirus crisis and its effects on the economy. Without the extension there would have been a government shutdown. There are a handful of proposals floating around from the wide-ranging to the more focused but the middle ground is gaining support. 

Although economists and some Democrats are pushing for a second round of $1200 stimulus checks there is strong resistance to the cost of such a step being taken again. In President Trump’s new proposal, half that amount is being offered but again the price tag may be too high for right now. Time is running short with millions of Americans still unemployed and many more facing layoffs as the covid-19 surges ever more across the US.

What is in the Congress bipartisan stimulus bill?

The bipartisan bill doesn’t currently include provision for cash payments like the ones sent to more than 160 million Americans earlier in the year. What it does include are unemployment benefits, aid for small businesses and other targeted assistance. CNN report that there have been last ditch attempts by progressive members of Congress, as well as Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, in support of another round of $1,200 payments.

The bill does, however include an extension of jobless benefits from December until April of $300 a week, and calls for extensions of other pandemic unemployment programs created by the CARES Act in March. Small businesses would benefit from a pot of $300 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program. Healthcare providers would get a boost of $35 billion, and vaccine development and distribution is allotted $6 billion. In addition, student loan freezes would be extended and funding for schools increased, rental assistance provided, and state and local aid to the tune of $160 billion.

Many of the figures in this particular bill are skinny versions of what Democrats have been calling for for months, and substantially more fattened up than Republicans would like, but many are saying that it could be just the ticket to keep the hardest hit in the near-term, as an interim measure before Joe Biden takes the reins in January and makes good on his promise for more comprehensive aid.

Why is a second stimulus check not in this bill?

Since negotiations began in June over new stimulus legislation, Republicans have been reluctant to put a price tag sufficient to appease Democrat’s lower limit. Democrats have until recently been demanding in the region of $2 trillion to deliver essential support to businesses and working class families across the country who are still being adversely affected by the economic fallout from the pandemic.

The bipartisan group proposing a new middle-ground in hope to bring relief before the holidays, is trying to keep the overall cost of their bill under $1 trillion, to garner Republican support. Any stimulus check addition would cost in the region of $300 billion upwards, depending on how many people qualify and how much they receive.