There’s a new bipartisan stimulus relief plan gaining momentum in Congress. However, does it include a second round of $1,200 COVID-19 stimulus relief checks (or $3,400 for a family of four)?
The answer is, no. The bipartisan plan, unlike other proposals previously on the table, does not contain direct payments to Americans – in any amount. The $1,200 for one person and $3,400 for a family of four were figures that made it into previous proposals.
The bipartisan plan does include $160 billion to help state, local, and tribal governments deal with the pandemic’s costs. According to CNN, the bipartisan plan resulted from talks that included Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Bill Cassidy and Mitt Romney alongside Democratic Senators Joe Manchin, Mark Warner and Jeanne Shaheen and an independent, Angus King.
“I don’t have any prediction how the White House would react,” Romney said, according to NBC. “Covid has created a crisis. And in the crisis the people expect Congress to act.”
Here’s what you need to know:
A Growing Number of Republican Senators Are Expressing Interest in the Bipartisan Plan
The bipartisan plan comes as Republicans and Democrats in Congress have deadlocked for months over the pricetag of a second relief plan for the American people. That hardly changed after the presidential election. The president doesn’t have authority to get it done on his own because the U.S. Constitution gave funding authority to Congress.
The bipartisan plan’s $900 billion figure falls in between the $2.2 trillion desired by Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats and the $500 billion that Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says his membership will support. Also a factor: Two Georgia Senate runoff elections that could determine control of the Senate. If the Senate falls into Democratic hands, it would be easier for Pelosi’s approach to make it through.
In the midst of all of this, some Republican and some Democrats banded together to push the compromise bipartisan plan.
Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota and John Cornyn of Texas have now indicated that they may support the bipartisan plan, according to NJ.com.
A Senator Says Including Checks Would ‘Break the Coalition’
Why aren’t stimulus checks included in the bipartisan bill? U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., revealed that they would “break the coalition,” meaning that the bipartisan agreement would fall apart.
However, Pelosi and McConnell are still talking, and McConnell sounded more optimistic the week of December 3 that something would pass.
“We had a good conversation,” McConnell said after the meeting, according to pool reports cited by NJ.com. “I think we’re both interested in getting an outcome.”
However, the report says that McConnell has indicated he might want his own plan to go through instead of the bipartisan version. “I put forward a serious and highly targeted relief proposal including the elements which we know the president is ready and willing to sign into law,” McConnell said, according to NJ.com. “Let’s make law on all the subjects where we agree, on all the areas where President Trump is ready to sign bipartisan relief into law.”
The plan does include $300 a week in extra unemployment benefits, according to CNBC. That network indicated that McConnell had rejected the plan, although the growing number of Republican senators expressing interest in it could change that calculation for the majority leader.
One economist told CNBC that he would prefer stimulus checks to unemployment benefits because the benefits got delayed in some states’ processing procedures whereas stimulus checks end up more quickly in the hands of the American people.