After weeks of stalled negotiations over the next round of federal coronavirus aid, a bipartisan group of 50 House lawmakers has prepared a new proposal designed to bring together Washington’s bitterly divided factions and restart negotiations ahead of the November election. Here’s what you need to know about the long-shot plan.
U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.
The proposal includes another round of $1,200 direct payments to individuals, plus $500 per child and dependent adult—a provision that Democrats, some Republicans and the White House all support.
It would re-up the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses with another $95 billion and reappropriate the remaining $145 billion from the first round of the program.
It would revive federal supplemental unemployment benefits at a level of $450 per week for eight weeks, then replace lost wages up to $600 per week (with a cap to make sure the benefits don’t exceed lost income) for five weeks after that.
It would also allocate another $500 billion to state and local governments—a major priority for Democrats, who originally asked for $1 trillion in new aid—on top of the $130 billion remaining from the CARES Act.
There’s also $100 billion for virus testing and tracing and public health, $25 billion for mortgage and rental assistance, $130 billion for schools, $15 billion for the Postal Service, and $400 million for elections.
The plan would also extend the deadline for the 2020 Census and include expanded protections for workers along with liability protections for businesses and schools.
“We can’t afford to do nothing until the next inauguration,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), a co-chairman of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, told CNBC on Tuesday morning. “So we figured out a way—and it’s just a framework—to hopefully get the negotiators back to the table.”
While the new proposal lays out a broad framework for compromise on many of the issues that have divided lawmakers over the past weeks and months, including state and local aid and federal unemployment benefits, it’s likely to face strong opposition in the Republican-led Senate. The main sticking point would be the $1.5 trillion price tag, Politico reports, which could balloon to around $2 trillion in the new year if the crisis hasn’t improved by then because of the way some of the plan’s provisions would be tied to the economy’s performance. While the White House has signaled that it could support a bill worth $1.3 trillion (or even up to $1.5 trillion), the Senate GOP has been adamant that the price tag of any new package not exceed $1 trillion, the size of the original HEALS Act proposal released in July. The original proposal from Democrats, on the other hand, was worth an eye-watering $3.4 trillion. Last week, the Senate GOP tried and failed to pass an even smaller, more targeted bill that would have appropriated $300 billion in new spending (plus $350 billion in funding to be repurposed from existing allocations).