Now that the election is over and Congressional Democrats are no longer playing politics with coronavirus relief, progress is finally being made. Relief was a major issue in key battleground states, hence why Nancy Pelosi stonewalled any attempts from Republicans to make concessions and get aid passed.
During early negotiations, as one would expect based on ideologically alone, Republicans wanted a smaller relief bill than Democrats. The most Republicans were willing to offer was a still-astronomical $1.8 trillion in spending, while Pelosi wanted another $400 billion on top of that. For reference, the CARES Act authorized $2.2 trillion in new spending, and was the largest stimulus bill in U.S. history.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin attempted to negotiate with Pelosi, but said that she offered no compromises at all, just an “all or nothing” approach. He’d even up the GOP’s offer to $1.9 trillion to no avail.
Now that the election is over, a bipartisan bill has been introduced that which would spend “only” $908 billion, less than half of what Pelosi demanded pre-election. Again for reference, Obama’s 2009 stimulus package cost $831 billion (or roughly $1 trillion in 2020 dollars).
A bipartisan group of Senators on Monday proposed $908 in new spending; $748 billion of the new spending is in a bill that extends the expiring unemployment programs by four months and adds a $300 boost to jobless benefits. There’s also a separate $160 billion bill that gives state and local government aid, and liability protections to businesses.
According to CNBC:
The $300 weekly enhancement to benefits would not be retroactive. The federal government would pay the subsidy for any period of unemployment from Dec. 26 until April 19.That weekly subsidy would follow two prior stipends paid by the federal government: a $600 boost provided by the CARES Act through July, and a $300 Lost Wages Assistance payment created by President Donald Trump with federal disaster-relief funds.
The bipartisan legislation would also issue another 16 weeks of jobless benefits through two temporary federal programs set to expire in about a week and a half. One of those programs, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, pays assistance to self-employed, gig, freelance and other workers typically unable to receive jobless aid from states.
The other, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, offers an extra 13 weeks of state benefits, which generally last for up to six months. The two programs would be extended to April 19 if the bill is passed.
Aside from unemployment provisions, the $748 billion legislation has other aid valves like support for small businesses, child care grants, rental assistance and student loan relief.
The earliest the House and Senate can vote on the bill is December 16th and 17th, respectively, which President Trump would sign on the 18th. The next earliest day the House would be able to vote is the 22nd.