House Democrats stimulus plan: Unemployment benefits, direct payments

House Democrats on Monday unveiled a $2.2 trillion stimulus plan that includes reviving the $600

House Democrats on Monday unveiled a $2.2 trillion stimulus plan that includes reviving the $600 federal unemployment benefit and sending a second round of stimulus checks to millions of American taxpayers.

House Democrats in May passed a $3.4 trillion spending package called the Heroes Act. (The new proposal has the same name.) It formed the basis of their coronavirus relief negotiations with Republicans, though they have lowered their demands and now insist on at least $2.2 trillion in new spending.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she aimed to bring Republicans back to the negotiating table with the new proposal.

“Democrats are making good on our promise to compromise with this updated bill, which is necessary to address the immediate health and economic crisis facing America’s working families right now,” she said in a letter to members of her caucus.

Here are several of the package’s provisions:

  • $600 weekly federal unemployment benefits until January 31, retroactive from September 6.
  • Another round of $1,200 direct payments, plus $500 per dependent.
  • $436 billion in additional assistance to state and local governments.
  • A reinstatement of the Paycheck Protection Program to aid small businesses as well as nonprofits and restaurants.
  • $225 billion in funds to help schools.
  • $75 billion for coronavirus testing and contact tracing.
  • $50 billion in emergency rental assistance, half of what Democrats initially sought.

Read more: Stimulus talks resume as dealmakers work toward another round of checks. Here’s everything you need to know about the rescue package.

Many components of the last major economic relief law, the CARES Act, expired over the summer, and Congress hasn’t implemented other relief measures since.

Through an executive order in August, President Donald Trump implemented a Lost Wages Assistance program that drew $44 billion in disaster relief funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover a $300 federal supplement to state unemployment benefits.

That federal money is drying up, though FEMA guaranteed six weeks of funding to approved states through September 5.

Both chambers of Congress would need to approve the Democrats’ plan for it to reach Trump’s desk for his signature. But that’s highly uncertain given that Democrats and Republicans have been deadlocked on further coronavirus relief measures.

Negotiations in August stalled amid fierce disagreements over the amount of federal spending needed to prop up the economy. Unemployment benefits and state aid are still two areas of major friction between the parties.

Democrats blocked a “skinny” $650 billion package from the GOP earlier this month, dismissing it as “emaciated” and inadequate to address the twin public-health and economic crises.

Many economists have urged Congress to approve another relief package to keep people and businesses afloat through the pandemic and prevent the economy from backsliding. But the prospect of a Supreme Court nomination battle in the coming weeks has drained hopes of a package before Americans cast their ballots in November.

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