$1.5 Trillion Stimulus Bill, Including Second Check, to Be Unveiled This Afternoon
by Christy Bieber | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on Sept. 15, 2020
Waiting for more coronavirus relief? The House Problem Solvers Caucus is introducing a stimulus bill that could help make that happen.
Americans have been eagerly waiting for more coronavirus relief since the CARES Act passed in March, but lawmakers have come to a stalemate where compromise has proved impossible.
Although Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has indicated the White House is in favor of stimulus relief regardless of its impact on the deficit, concerns about both the price of another bill and its contents have thus far prevented any relief bills from passing Congress and making their way to the president's desk.
Hopefully, that will soon change. The House Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of 50 centrist lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, have indicated they'll unveil a $1.5 trillion stimulus plan as soon as this afternoon. While members of the Caucus don't believe their plan will actually be signed into law, they hope that it will urge House and Senate leaders to resume negotiations and focus on issues where there is agreement.
A second stimulus check and more. Here's what to expect from the new stimulus plan
One of the key sticking points preventing the passage of another coronavirus relief bill is the size of the package. The House Democrats passed the HEROES Act along party lines, which carried a price tag of more than $3 trillion while Republicans have repeatedly indicated they'd prefer to keep the costs of further relief at around $1 trillion.
The plan introduced by the House Problem Solvers Caucus aims to find a compromise but errs on the low side, with the price of their plan expected to be around $1.5 trillion. It also primarily includes proposals that already have bipartisan support. Some of the key components of the plan include:
- An additional $450 per week in unemployment benefits for five weeks, followed by another five weeks in which workers will have up to $600 in lost wages replaced. This is less than the $600 the Democrats proposed (and that was made available under the CARES Act through July 31) but more than the Republicans would have authorized in the HEALS Act or the skinny relief bill, which are the two main proposals they've put forth during negotiations. There are also automatic triggers that would extend jobless aid if the economy is still struggling when the relief ends.
- Another stimulus check for Americans. Direct payments of $1,200 would be made available to taxpayers. Both the HEROES and HEALS Acts included a second stimulus payment, but the HEROES Act would have increased the amount available for dependents to $1,200 for up to three dependents while the HEALS Act expanded which dependents were eligible for the money but kept the amount at $500, which is what the CARES Act provided.
- $500 billion in aid to state and local governments, which is double what those on the right have expressed support for but far below the $1 trillion in relief the Democrats believe states need to cope with coronavirus.
- A second round of the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to businesses that meet certain requirements. This has enjoyed bipartisan support.
- Liability protections for businesses, which have been a key policy goal of Republicans, but which some Democrats have objected to as helping corporations at the expense of consumers.
- $100 billion in funds for contract tracing and testing, which has also had broad bipartisan support in the past.
- $15 billion for the United States Postal Service, which is more than the Republicans have proposed but far less than Democrats have asked for to help the USPS cope with a funding crisis and to prepare for a record number of mail-in votes in the upcoming election.
- $25 billion in mortgage relief and rental assistance.
The Problem Solvers Caucus hopes to send a signal to leadership that there are more points of consensus than many realize and that it could be possible for a compromise bill to pass. However, repeated attempts to negotiate have failed, and Democrats have indicated they aren't interested in a piecemeal approach but rather want broad legislation that provides the relief Americans need or nothing at all.
Still, their efforts may restart talks as lawmakers on both the right and left have indicated they do want to help those who are hurting -- even if they're having a hard time finding a way to do it. Since more relief is far from a certainty, though, you should consider taking advantage of existing relief if you need help.
If you're having a hard time making the bills, it may also be worth exploring options such as a mortgage refinance to lower monthly payments or applying for a 0% APR credit card to help cover costs in the short-term.
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