Published in: Personal Finance | Oct. 2, 2020
By: Christy Bieber
Coronavirus relief talks are making progress as the White House proposes another stimulus check.
Lawmakers have been in a stalemate for months as repeated attempts to provide more coronavirus relief have failed. In recent days, however, top negotiators from the White House and Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi have expressed a desire to return to the negotiating table and find a compromise.
For Americans awaiting relief, there's some great news: They finally appear to be closer to a deal.
In fact, the White House has put forth a new proposed relief plan and the administration has made key concessions to Democrats that could put an agreement within reach.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who has negotiated on behalf of the Trump administration, put forth a new relief plan carrying a price tag of $1.62 trillion. The plan would include:
The cost of subsequent relief has been a key sticking point in negotiations, and this bill represents a departure from the administration's previous limit of $1.5 trillion. While still below the $2.2 to $2.4 trillion the Democrats have said is their bottom line, that narrows the gap significantly. Republicans initially did not want to spend more than $1 trillion, while the HEROES Act, the Democrats' opening salvo, had a price tag of more than $3 trillion.
The extra $400 in weekly unemployment benefits is also above the $300 most Republican proposals have included, while still below the $600 weekly benefit boost that Democrats favor.
The White House has also moved towards consensus on other key Democratic priorities -- the new bill includes more financial relief for states, more money for COVID-19 testing, expanded SNAP benefits, and broader relief for the postal service. While the Republicans still offer less in many of these areas than the Democrats asked for, the administration made some significant concessions, narrowing the gap.
Though it is encouraging news that the latest White House offer reflects a significant shift toward consensus, it's still not a sure thing that a second stimulus bill will be signed into law -- especially before the election.
Some Senate Republicans have expressed concerns about supporting a plan with an even smaller price tag than this one, and there's limited time for the Senate to act, particularly as the upper chamber focuses on other priorities, including confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, nominated to fill the Supreme Court seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Still, Americans have more reason to hope for a second COVID-19 relief check in their bank accounts now than they have in recent months, and all eyes should be on Washington for news of a deal.
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