House Democrats have introduced a second stimulus package aimed at helping bolster the battered United States economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday evening, lawmakers revealed a $2.2 trillion bill — much less than the $3.4 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (or HEROES) Act that passed the House in May but was disregarded by Senate Republicans. The measure would serve as a followup to the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid Response and Economic Security Act (or CARES) Act that was introduced at the end of March as the COVID-19 health crisis took hold in the country.
According to multiple Democratic aides who spoke with the press, a vote could be seen as soon as later this week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who have met for discussions several times in recent days, are scheduled to speak again today.
Like the CARES Act, the newly unveiled coronavirus-related legislation would provide a second round of $1,200 checks for individuals and $500 per dependent. Another $225 billion is slated for education, while $57 billion would help support child care for families. It also seeks to restore the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefits, which expired at the end of July, and continue those payments through the end of January.
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What’s more, the bill plans to offer $436 billion in aid to states and cities — a significant drop from the $900 billion that Democrats had included in the original text of their HEROES Act. It would not only bring back the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, but also grant additional funding to the hard-hit airline industry through the Payroll Support Program.
The proposal would also finance the U.S. Postal Service and election security, as well as coronavirus testing, tracing and treatment, among other items.
It’s been nearly seven months since the coronavirus outbreak tightened its grip on the U.S., which continues to see record high levels of unemployment and a staggering number of businesses shutting down or going bankrupt. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, American employers added nearly 1.4 million jobs last month, pushing down the unemployment rate to 8.4%. Although significantly better than the 14.7% high reported in April, the figure is still significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels, which hovered in the mid-3% range.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers have pushed for another stimulus measure for months, but they have been unable to come to a consensus on the level of weekly unemployment assistance as well as aid provided to states and cities. The House-proposed package is expected to face a tough bout in the Senate.