As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spike across the U.S., don’t look for any help from the federal government as 2020 comes to an end.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday unveiled a $908 billion coronavirus relief proposal, but there are no $1,200 checks for Americans as there were in the first stimulus package Congress passed.
The bill would deliver another $160 billion to states and cities and $180 billion for unemployment insurance, two issues Democrats have pushed hard. The unemployment benefits would pay $300 per week for 18 weeks, retroactive to Dec. 1, which is half of what was included in the CARES Act passed in March.
The proposal would also set aside $288 billion for assistance to small businesses via the Paycheck Protection Program. In addition, the bill would free up $45 billion for transportation-related industries such as airlines and $16 billion for development of a COVID-19 vaccine development. Another $182 billion would be used for healthcare provider relief fund, education, student loans, housing assistance, nutrition, and agriculture programs and the U.S. Postal Service.
“This is a COVID emergency relief framework,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said, adding it would be “inexcusable” for Congress to adjourn without providing more aid. “It’s not the time for political brinkmanship. … This is going to get us through the most difficult times.”
“It’s been said, this is not what everybody would wish. People are going to look at these buckets and they’re going to say, ‘Well, my bucket isn’t there,’ or ‘My bucket is only half full.’ Well, this is… emergency relief. This is designed to get us through this next quarter,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), according to The Hill.
The bill’s passage is much in doubt, Axios reported. “Most lawmakers still see only a small chance for passage of a comprehensive stimulus package before the end of the year, given how far apart Republicans and Democrats remain on key priorities,” the political website wrote.
“The group includes GOP Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah), Rob Portman (Ohio), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Pat Toomey (Pa.), and Democrats Mark Warner (Va.), Chris Coons (Del.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.), sources said,” Axios reported.
Lawmakers have little time, as they are set to adjourn next week for the year.
Democrats and Republicans have been at loggerheads for months, which neither side compromising on their demands. President Donald Trump in October said all lawmakers should agree on helping Americans.
“If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY. I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?” Trump wrote on Twitter on Oct. 7, referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Under the first stimulus bill Congress passed in March, individuals were eligible for payments up to $1,200, but that amount declined for those with an adjusted gross income higher than $75,000 a year. The $1,200 payment dropped by 5% of every dollar above $75,000, or $50 for every $1,000. The benefit didn’t apply for individuals with incomes over $99,000.
Married couples with combined incomes up to $150,000 were eligible to receive $2,400, subject to the same phaseout that applied to individuals. The payments phased out entirely for couples making $198,000 or more. Families also got $500 per dependent child under the age of 16.
Approximately 120 million U.S. taxpayers qualified for direct payments from the federal government under the bill.