As reported by cnet,

Here’s what we know about the frontrunner bills.


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A week that started off with Congress considering a single bipartisan $908 billion proposal as the best way to restart stalled stimulus talks and send more economic aid before the end of 2020 quickly filled up with a handful of new proposals from other congressional members and the White House looking to accomplish a similar goal.

But Congress has just a few weeks left in the year to put together a package that would renew a handful of benefits set to expire and have it signed into law.

To keep the cost under $1 trillion, the bipartisan group of senators left out a second stimulus check for the proposal. Almost immediately, Republican and Democratic lawmakers as well as President Donald Trump called for legislators to add another round of direct payments to the last-ditch effort at passing more economic relief.

While the White House is reportedly pushing for a $600 stimulus check for each qualifying adult and child as a way to win broader Congressional support, the Washington Post reported, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell looked for another path around the stalemate and Tuesday afternoon offered to set aside two majority sticking points — liability protections and funding for state and local governments — if that would help Congress find middle ground on a deal.

In a separate proposal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he and the White House did want liability protections and funding for state and local governments in a relief package and sent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a new proposal that would include both measures.

After reviewing the administration’s proposal, however, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said they continue to support the initial $980 billion bipartisan bill. “Members of the House and Senate have been engaged in good-faith negotiations and continue to make progress. The bipartisan talks are the best hope for a bipartisan solution,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a statement Tuesday evening.

Confused yet?

The $908 billion package is designed to serve as a “short-term emergency-relief package to get us through the first months, through a very tough winter, into the new administration,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a Democratic member of the bipartisan group, on NBC’s Meet the Press on Monday. The proposal in its original state would omit sending Americans a second stimulus check, however.

But a vocal group of Democrats and at least one Republican almost immediately said they won’t support the bill without a direct payment to individuals and families. According to Politico, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri said he has urged Trump to veto the bill if it doesn’t include another stimulus check. “I think it’s vital that any relief include direct payments, and I’m not gonna vote for it if it doesn’t,” Hawley said he told Trump.

Let’s take a look at the major categories of funding that the new compromise proposal and counteroffers may cover. We update this story with new details.


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Is a second stimulus payment in or out?

The initial version of the $908 billion bipartisan bill would leave out a second economic stimulus check to keep the overall cost of the bill down, the bill’s supporters said. As of this summer, the IRS said the cost of the first round of payments hit $270 billion.

Biden on Friday said, however, “It would be better if they have the $1,200.” On Tuesday, following Biden’s remarks, a group of senators including independent Bernie Sanders and Democrat Elizabeth Warren demanded the proposal include a $1,200 check. “The American people need help, and they need help now. We agree with President-elect Biden that a $1,200 direct payment should be included in this proposal,” Politico reported.

After a report on Tuesday by the Washington Post that the Trump administration is pushing Senate Republicans to add a $600 check, Mnuchin said he sent Pelosi a $918 billion proposal. In his statement, Mnuchin doesn’t mention a $600 stimulus check, but the Post reported the White House proposal included $600 checks for each eligible adult and child.

More federal unemployment benefits

The CARES Act passed in March gave $600 per week to unemployed workers, on top of their usual unemployment check. When this funding lapsed at the end of July, President Donald Trump signed an executive action to pay a $300 per week bonus. That money will run out by Dec. 31.

The bipartisan proposal — created by more than a dozen members of the House and Senate — would provide $300 per week in additional federal unemployment benefits for four months. White House economics reporter Jeff Stein of the Washington Post reported the bipartisan group could make the payments retroactive for missed months.

The Washington Post reported the new administration proposal presented by Mnuchin would dramatically trim the federal unemployment benefits provided in the bipartisan bill in exchange for a new round of checks.

Extended Payroll Protection Program to help pay employees

The Payroll Protection Program initially provided forgivable loans to small businesses to help cover worker wages and help keep employees on the books, instead of laying them off. 

The new bipartisan proposal would add about $300 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses. According to the Washington Post, the bill would target aid for businesses especially hard hit by closures, including restaurants.

Renewal of protection from eviction for renters

The CARES Act established a nationwide ban on evictions for renters who were late on rent. When that was set to expire, Trump extended the ban — but that extension, too, is set to expire at the end of the year. 

According to the Washington Post, the new bipartisan proposal would guard against evictions through “rental assistance funding”by providing financial aid for landlords.

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Both sides are weighing the options for an eventual stimulus package.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Funding for health care and coronavirus vaccinations

With the US poised to release the first wave of coronavirus vaccines as soon as this month, the proposals turn toward funding distribution of the vaccine.

“On COVID relief, we acknowledged the recent positive developments on vaccine development and the belief that it is essential to significantly fund distribution efforts to get us from vaccine to vaccination,” Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday.

The bipartisan proposal would provide $16 billion for vaccine distribution, along with funding coronavirus testing and contact tracing efforts.

Read more: What to know about the COVID-19 vaccine’s timeline, hidden costs and more

Liability protection from COVID-19 lawsuits

A major sticking point through the summer and fall, Republican legislators have supported limiting COVID-19 liability, which is designed to curtail lawsuits against businesses, schools, hospitals and other organizations from people who said these institutions caused them to acquire the coronavirus, except for instances of gross negligence. Democrats have balked at the plan.

The bipartisan plan sets a six-month moratorium on some coronavirus-related lawsuits against organizations, giving states enough time to create their own liability protections, the senators said.

McConnell at a press conference on Tuesday said he would support setting aside liability limits along with state and local funding to reach a deal. “What I recommend is we set aside liability and set aside state and local and pass those things that we can agree on, knowing full well we will back at this after the first of the year,” McConnell said.

Money for schools and childcare

Funding for education has been a part of proposals for more economic assistance going back to May. The bipartisan plan would set aside $82 billion for education and $10 billion for child care.

State and local aid

The bipartisan proposal would include $160 billion for state and local aid, funding Democrats have supported since this summer. Republicans have resisted the aid, but Rep. Gottheimer told NBC on Monday he thought the bipartisan group was close to addressing GOP concerns.

McConnell, however, said he would support leaving out state and local aid along with liability protections from a bipartisan bill to get it approved. “We ought to pass what we can agree on,” McConnnell said Tuesday. The administration’s proposal would include funding for state and local governments along with liability protections.

While we wait to see how and when negotiations shake out over the current proposals, here’s what you need to know about coronavirus hardship loansunemployment insurance and what you can do if you’ve lost your job.





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