Stimulus or no stimulus? Congress cannot make up its mind.
With different bills coming from the House and the Senate, it doesn’t look like Congress will agree on a new stimulus package to help Medicare beneficiaries any time soon. But President Trump wants to make another round of stimulus checks happen before the election.
President Trump threw a curveball this week when he tweeted:
“Democrats are ‘heartless’. They don’t want to give STIMULUS PAYMENTS to people who desperately need the money, and whose fault it was NOT that the plague came in from China. Go for the much higher numbers, Republicans, it all comes back to the USA anyway (one way or another!).”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer are “encouraged” that Trump’s words could mean negotiating a deal. “We look forward to hearing from the President’s negotiators that they will finally meet us halfway with a bill that is equal to the massive health and economic crises gripping our nation,” Pelosi and Schumer said.
President Trump called for a larger stimulus package that includes $1,200 stimulus checks, but that is what the House already included in their HEROES Act this summer.
Pelosi said, “All they want is to have the President’s name on a check going out… That’s all he really cares about. We have to do more than just have the Republicans check a box.”
The latest “skinny” relief package from the Senate did not include relief checks at all.
Even though Trump is calling for a larger relief bill, many Republicans are wary of a very expensive deal, citing federal deficits and debts.
A new proposal
There is a new plan in the works by a House bipartisan group called the Problem Solvers Caucus. The measure totals $1.5 trillion, and is designed to strike a middle ground between Republicans and Democrats. It includes:
- More money for a second round of $1,200 checks
- A third round of direct payments in March if the pandemic worsens
- More funds for the Payroll Protection Program to help small businesses
- $450 per week in unemployment benefits
- Replace up to $600 of a worker’s past wages for five weeks
- More protections for workers and employers
- $500 billion for state and local governments
- Aid for the USPS, coronavirus testing, and rental assistance
- $400 billion in new aid if the pandemic’s economic toll continues in January
It is still unclear whether an agreement can be reached on this new proposal. Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others want Democrats to hold out for a larger, more comprehensive stimulus bill that includes stimulus payments as well as state aid and public health funding.
Nancy Pelosi, however, pledged this week to remain in session until a deal is reached. But a new recess begins on October 2.