A new — and less costly — COVID-19 relief bill has been floated to the White House.
Over the weekend, 10 Republican senators proposed an alternative plan for economic stimulus — with a price tag of roughly $618 billion, or less than a third of the size of President Joe Biden’s massive $1.9 trillion package. Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Bill Cassidy and Mitt Romney were among those who penned the letter to the American leader, who invited the legislation’s signees to a meeting this afternoon.
“In the spirit of bipartisanship and unity, we have developed a COVID-19 relief framework that builds on prior COVID assistance laws, all of which passed with bipartisan support,” read the letter put forth by the GOP lawmakers on Sunday. “Our proposal reflects many of your stated priorities, and with your support, we believe that this plan could be approved quickly by Congress with bipartisan support.”
The counterproposal is expected to set aside $160 billion to fund coronavirus vaccination assistance, which includes distribution, testing and tracing. It also promised an extension to enhanced federal unemployment benefits worth about $132 billion, as well as $220 billion for an additional round of direct payments “for those families who need assistance the most, including their dependent children and adults.”
According to a summary of the measure released today, Americans who make less than $40,000 would get $1,000 checks, and couples who file jointly would receive $2,000. Another $500 would go to families for each dependent child or adult. (Individuals with earnings of more than $50,000 and couples who take home more than $100,000 would not be eligible for the direct payments.)
What’s more, the bill pledged aid for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. It would also provide resources to help schools to reopen safely.
“With your support, we believe Congress can once again craft a relief package that will provide meaningful, effective assistance to the American people and set us on a path to recovery,” the senators added in the letter.
The next steps could serve as a critical test for the new president, who emphasized the importance of unity in his inauguration speech. Last week, however, some Democrats in Congress indicated that they were prepared to push forward with a budget resolution, which would lay the groundwork to pass Biden’s American Rescue Plan without GOP votes.
Some of the key points of the president’s bill include funding for coronavirus vaccine distribution, grants for small businesses, a gradual increase in the federal minimum wage and an extension of additional weekly jobless benefits. It would also provide another round of stimulus checks to households — to the tune of $1,400 for eligible Americans.