Congress has been meeting over the weekend in an attempt to, at long last, come up with a second COVID-19 stimulus package. They’ve now reached an agreement. However, would the plan on the table give Americans another round of enhanced unemployment benefits?
On Sunday evening, December 20, McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that they had reached a deal on a $908 billion stimulus package. McConnell wrote on Twitter, “As the American people continue battling the coronavirus this holiday season, they will not be on their own. Congress has just reached an agreement. We will pass another rescue package ASAP. More help is on the way.” The text of the bill, including details, was not yet released.
America desperately needs #COVIDrelief.
This is an emergency bill:
Enhanced unemployment benefits
Relief to our schools, small biz, health care system
We need to get this done now.
And then we need to do even more under President Biden.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) December 20, 2020
The answer is that it’s expected the package will include $300 in extra weekly unemployment benefits, although that hasn’t been officially announced. According to Deadline, the package under consideration included $300 a week in enhanced unemployment benefits. It also included $600 COVID-19 stimulus checks for qualifying Americans and their dependents. A measure to pass $1,200 checks by unanimous consent was foiled by a Republican Senator on Friday, December 18.
The haggling between Democrats and Republicans in Congress has gone on for months. Neither side has been able to agree on the overall price tag for a second relief plan, with Democrats wanting around $2.2 trillion, Republicans wanting about $500 billion, and a bipartisan compromise plan coming in around $908 billion.
On Friday, Congress passed a two-day stopgap measure to avoid a partial government shutdown, according to Deadline. An agreement on the federal bank’s lending powers was perceived as clearing the path for a bipartisan agreement on stimulus relief, The New York Times reported.
Votes on a stimulus deal are expected Sunday afternoon, December 20. The vote has been tied to government funding needed to avoid a governmental shutdown.
“We’re getting very close, very close,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on Saturday, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Senate Majority Leader Says It’s Time to ‘Land This Plane’
I appreciate the good-faith spirit that has characterized the bipartisan negotiations this past week. But the American people cannot feed their families or pay their bills with Congress’s good-faith discussions. They need us to act. We need to conclude talks and land this plane.
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) December 19, 2020
Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, wrote on Twitter on December 19 that it was time to “land this plane.”
“I appreciate the good-faith spirit that has characterized the bipartisan negotiations this past week. But the American people cannot feed their families or pay their bills with Congress’s good-faith discussions. They need us to act. We need to conclude talks and land this plane,” McConnell wrote of the overall stimulus relief plan.
McConnell also wrote, “Productive conversations remain underway on COVID-19 relief. But Congress must not slide into treating these talks like routine negotiations at our routine pace. This could not be more urgent. The Senate’s going to keep working right through the weekend until we get an outcome.”
Nancy Pelosi Has Blamed McConnell for the Failure to Reach a Deal
In early December, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blamed McConnell for the stalled stimulus relief bill. “Leader McConnell’s efforts to undermine good-faith, bipartisan negotiations are appalling,” she wrote in a statement.
“What does Leader McConnell have against our heroes? Our health care workers, our first responders and other frontline workers have risked their lives to save lives. Now, Leader McConnell wants them to lose their jobs and our constituents to lose the essential services they provide. With vaccine distribution being administered by the states, state and local funding is central to our efforts to crush the virus.”
The $300 in extra unemployment benefits would be half what people were receiving when the pandemic first hit. However, Republicans have expressed concern that the higher amount provided too much of an incentive for people not to work.