CONGRESS agreed to split a $908 billion stimulus proposal into two parts, with each half somewhat appeasing what the two parties want, in a last-ditch effort to pass stimulus relief before the end of the year.
The bill is split in two, with $748 billion going to provisions that both Democrats and Republicans support, including the extension of two expiring unemployment programs, an additional $300 a week in jobless benefits, and a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program.
A bipartisan group put split a stimulus proposal between the two party’s provisionsCredit: EPA
The bill allots $748 billion to provisions both parties wantCredit: Splash News
Also included in that split is money set aside for rental assistance, student loan forbearance, and funding for testing, tracing and vaccine distribution, and much more.
The latter part of the bill is a toss-up between two different stances each party has taken. The bill includes liability protections for businesses that Democrats have called a “poison pill,” and also $160 billion set aside for state and local government aid, which Republicans, under Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have referred to as a “blue state bailout.”
Nonetheless, the proposed split has led to the praise of some senators.
“We’ve had a Christmas miracle occur in Washington,” said Republican Maine Senator Susan Collins. “I want to thank my Democratic and Republican colleagues in the Senate for working so hard to bring us to this day.”
Most Americans reject Republicans’ red line on liabilityCredit: Splash News
Democrats are pushing for state and local aid to help stop the spread of the coronavirusCredit: The Mega Agency
Neither of the two parts include a second round of stimulus checks, something both Democrats and Republicans as well as the White House, supported in earlier stimulus negotiations.
The $748 billion includes an extension of unemployment assistance for 16 weeks, with a supplemental $300 per week, as well as an additional $13 billion in emergency food assistance, $45 billion in emergency funding for transportation, and $82 billion in education funding.
The $748 billion number was a number McConnell wanted to hit a week ago.
“What I recommend is we set aside liability and set aside state and local and pass those things that we can agree on,” McConnell said. “We’ll be back at this after the first of the year.”
Still, a majority of Americans polled say they reject the GOP’s red line on liability and would rather receive a stimulus check right away.
McConnell’s remarks had a mixed reception, with many Democratic Congressmembers signaling they would not approve unless state and local funding is included in the bill.
However House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he would be willing to negotiate without the funding “to get the essential done.”
“We think state and local is important, and if we can get that, we want to get it,” Hoyer said. “But we want to get aid out to the people who are really, really struggling and are at grave risk.”
An estimated 12 million Americans are expected to lose unemployment benefits when two programs, created under the CARES Act, expire on December 26. Paid sick leave, state and local government aid, the federal eviction moratorium and other relief will also end.
The $748 proposal is far less than the $2.2 trillion version of the HEROES Act Democrats initially pushed during the summer, as well as the $908 billion version the bipartisan group originally proposed.