A bipartisan group of 50 centrist lawmakers is set to propose a compromise on a new stimulus bill after talks in Congress had stalled.
According to the New York Times
- $1,200 direct stimulus checks to American taxpayers. This has been supported by Democratic lawmakers, but rejected by Republican leaders in Congress.
- An injection of cash into the troubled Paycheck Protection Program to support small businesses, which generally has enjoyed broad bipartisan support.
- An extension of enhanced unemployment benefits, which have lapsed, in the amount of $450 per week for eight weeks, then up to $600 per week for five additional weeks. Democrats had proposed a full extension of the enhanced benefits of $600 per week, while Republicans had offered a reduced benefit amount of $300 per week.
- Direct aid to cities and states. The amount is less than what Democrats had originally proposed, but Republicans had balked at any level of state or local aid.
The proposal also includes additional support for Coronavirus testing and other public health initiatives, as well as additional funding for schools and the U.S. Postal Service.
Not included in the proposal is any further student loan relief, following President Trump’s extension of the CARES Act’s suspension of federal student loan payments and interest through December 31. Consumer advocacy groups had previously criticized the President’s executive action on student loans as insufficient, calling for more widespread relief that covers all student loans (the CARES Act limits relief to only government-held student loans), as well as broad student loan forgiveness.
The total cost of the bill — $1.5 trillion — is roughly halfway between the $3 trillion proposal offered by House Democrats, and the most recent $500 billion proposal by Senate Republicans.
The latest effort to find a compromise follows the collapse of Congressional negotiations for a new stimulus bill. House Democrats passed the HEROES Act in May, largely on a party-line vote, which would have continued enhanced unemployment benefits of $600 per week, and provided more robust financial assistance to states, cities, and hospitals. The HEROES Act would have also extended the CARES Act’s student loan payment and interest suspension to September 30, 2021 (a full 12 months), and it would have expanded those protections to include commercially-issued FFEL-program federal student loans and Perkins loans. Notably, the bill would also have provided $10,000 in federal and private student loan forgiveness to borrowers experiencing economic distress.
Republicans rejected the HEROES Act, and instead offered several smaller stimulus bills with substantially reduced unemployment benefits, no direct payments to taxpayers, and no meaningful additional student loan relief. None of the Republican bills have been able to pass Congress, either.
It is unclear whether this latest compromise stimulus proposal has any chance of passing either the Democratic-controlled House, or the Republican-controlled Senate. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated an openness to trying, privately telling lawmakers that the House will remain in session.