Second Stimulus: Here’s A Recap of All the Plans Being Debated

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Getty President-elect Joe Biden (top left), Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (top right), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (bottom left) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (bottom right).

With many of the coronavirus-era protections expected to end December 31, party leaders have taken months to negotiate how much the next bill should cost and which benefits should be included.

Two Georgia Senate races that have gone into runoff elections could change whether Democrats have the ability to control both chambers of Congress and push through a larger bill with fewer compromises. You can read more about the implications of that race here.

However, these are the four bills on the table right now.

Pelosi’s HEROES Act Is Still Being Negotiated

The latest version is not the first iteration of the bill Pelosi put forward, which had a $3 trillion price tag. In an effort to meet Republicans — who were pushing for a $1 trillion or lower-cost bill — in the middle, Democrats updated the HEROES Act to make the final version cost $2.2 trillion.

Pelosi has advocated for all of the following — and more — to be included in the updated HEROES Act:

  • $18.4 billion to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the National Institutes of Health on coronavirus-related measures.
  • $225 billion in support for K-12 and higher education.
  • $249 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • $1,200 checks for individuals, with additional payments for dependents.
  • $600 weekly unemployment supplements.

The White House’s $1.8 Trillion Offer Is Still a Factor

In October, The Washington Post announced that a deal was made by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, on behalf of the White House, to provide a $1.8 trillion economic relief bill.

Here is what was in this offer, according to The Washington Post and CNET:

  • $300 billion for cities and states.
  • $1,200 checks per individual with, $1,000 per dependent.
  • a $400 weekly unemployment insurance supplement (to go on for longer than last time).

Many news outlets reported that the bill was light on details, perhaps in an effort to protect negotiations. The deal was fated to fail, given that a majority of Democrats felt it did not do enough and a majority of Republicans thought the bill cost too much.

Pelosi had said she was awaiting language to determine whether she would accept the deal; later, she contested that they had changed the definitive language to “recommendations” to create a “slush fund” for the Trump administration.

McConnell Is Expected to Push a Version of His ‘Skinny’ Bill

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to take office in January and install his own Treasury secretary, and with President Donald Trump preoccupied with refusing to concede the election, McConnell has taken on the role of lead negotiator of a new stimulus package, replacing both Trump and Mnuchin.

Here is what Forbes and Politico reported was in the “skinny bill”:

  • Weekly federal unemployment supplements of $300.
  • $105 billion for schools.
  • $16 billion for coronavirus testing.
  • $10 billion for the Postal Service.
  • $15 billion for child care grants.
  • $20 billion in farm aid.
  • $500 million for fisheries.
  • Forgiving small business loans up to $150,000.

The skinny bill did not include aid for state and local governments, which McConnell said could declare bankruptcy if they were struggling. The bill also did not include any additional stimulus check funds, Forbes reported.

Before the bill’s release, USA Today reported that Pelosi called it an “emaciated bill” containing “poison pills,” which she said was “only intended to help vulnerable Republican Senators by giving them a ‘check the box’ vote to maintain the appearance that they’re not held hostage by their extreme right-wing that doesn’t want to spend a nickel to help people.”

Biden Has Proposed Multiple Measures Not Mentioned in Other Bills

On his campaign website, Biden noted that Congress has failed to act since passing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March. He is proposing:

  • $1,200 payments for individuals, along with money for dependents.
  • Forgiving $10,000 or more in federal student loans.
  • Adding $200 to monthly Social Security checks.
  • $377 billion or more in business aid relief.
  • Financial aid to local and state governments.
  • Emergency paid-sick leave to all workers, including the employees of small businesses, independent contractors and gig workers.
  • Free coronavirus testing, treatment and vaccination.

Biden’s website is vague on the details of how much in unemployment benefits would be provided, stating a new bill would “boost unemployment benefits … deliver them without delay, and extend them as public health and economic conditions call for it.”

It’s also unclear where the bill Vice President-elect Kamala Harris supported during her presidential primary campaign will fit into Biden’s vision, if at all.

In May, then-candidate Harris joined with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey in supporting the Monthly Economic Economic Crisis Support Act. That legislation proposes that those making less than $120,000 would receive $2,000 monthly stimulus checks per individual and dependents (to a maximum of $10,000 per family).

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