With time running out to pass on another coronavirus stimulus package, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Sunday that Republicans are now ready to reveal their long-awaited coronavirus relief plan – and that it would include a new round of $ 1,200 stimulus controls and a smaller version of the reinforced unemployment insurance credited with keeping the US economy going.
Democrats filed their stimulus plan earlier in the year, with the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passing the HEROES $ 3 trillion law in May, but Republicans have struggled to answer it with their own legislation, and succeeded not share in their plan as promised last week.
Passing the bill – which requires a deal to be concluded with Democrats – is an extremely urgent matter for Congress. Unemployment benefits expire after July 31, a federal deportation moratorium imposed by the previous stimulus bill, the CARES Act, expired last week, and the Senate breaks on August 7 for August’s recess.
But Mnuchin suggested on Sunday that a compromise is imminent, and continues Fox News Sunday that the [Trump] Senate administration and Republicans are now completely on the same page “- a development that seemed to seem a long way off, as it did last week, when the White House and Republican lawmakers fought fiercely on the provisions to be included in the aid package.
Mnuchin said those provisions contain something that has long been a GOP priority: ending the extended insurance support, which currently gives the unemployed an extra $ 600 a week on top of their state unemployment benefits, and which is supported as a policy by Democrats . In the Republican package, the program will be replaced by “something that pays people about 70 percent wages, which I think is a very fair level,” Mnuchin said. He added that this would amount to cutting the additional payment down to about $ 200 a week.
Mnuchin also said that the GOP will include corporate liability protection, as advocated by majority senate leader Mitch McConnell, to protect companies from coronavirus-related litigation that could come from customers and employees.
An executive priority that is no longer on the table is a cut in payroll taxes – President Donald Trump’s preferred method of stimulating the economy. “It was very clear that the Democrats would not give us a cut in wages,” Mnuchin said. “So that’s something the President will come back to later this year.”
But as Wallace noted in a follow-up question, the cut in wages was not favored by all republicans – it was opposed by some prominent figures in the party, such as Republican Sens. John Thune, John Cornyn and Chuck Grassley.
National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow also discussed details of the upcoming coronavirus relief package on CNNs State of the Union On Sunday, host Jake Tapper told the GOP “will extend the deportation [moratorium]”That has now expired. That policy, which is also supported by Democrats, protects all tenants who live in buildings with mortgages guaranteed by the United States government from forced housing if they cannot afford.
Congress has a tight timeline for passing the law, in part because Republicans slowed down the legislative process following the adoption of the CARES Act in March, both out of unwillingness to spend money on aid and because they relied on very optimistic predictions to improve the condition of the pandemic and the economy.
“Everyone assumed that schools would reopen months ago, the economy would catch on again. That’s not necessarily true in many places, “Senator James Lankford (R-OK) told the New York Times last week. “So while I understand,” Hey, you’ve had months and months, “the ground shifts on us every week and you have to be careful with other people’s money.”
The Chamber Democrats have said they would like to start the final negotiations. “We were keen to negotiate for two months and ten days when we presented our proposal,” said home speaker Nancy Pelosi about CBS. Face the Nation on Sunday. “They are confused and are causing delay for American families.”
There is still a distance to go
After the Senate Republicans introduced their legislation this week, they must take on the House Democrats to negotiate a compromise bill.
While the details of the Republican bill will only be available when the draft legislation is released, Kudlow and Mnuchin’s interviews – as well as Li Zhou’s reporting from Vox – highlight the GOP’s priorities. As Zhou reported last week, there are areas where both Democrats and Republicans are likely to agree in spirit on emergency measures: a second stimulus check; funding for the development, testing and treatment of the coronavirus vaccine; financing for schools; and more support for small businesses. And this is reflected in the White House statements on Sunday. However, there will likely be debates How much funding goes to one of those specific issues.
But there will be clashes over things like Republicans ‘interest in passing corporate liability shields and Democrats’ focus on getting more funding for national and local governments.
And the battle for increased unemployment insurance is probably one of the most glaring issues. When asked if Democrats would allow the federal raise to drop below $ 600, Pelosi said, “You are not negotiating with a red line, but you are going to be discussing your values.”
Republicans have argued that the current system discourages unemployed people from returning to work, noting that some make more money through federal payments than they do at work. Some advocates of insurance argue that staying home at a time when it is still considered the best way to turn the tide of the virus is a sensible public health policy to encourage people financially not to look for unnecessary work.
On a purely economic level, the federal addition to state aid is crucial to help people who have no prospect of a job paying their bills for the foreseeable future, as Zhou explained, “[Unemployment insurance] has served as a critical safety net for millions of workers whose jobs have been effectively eliminated in the short term. According to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, as many as 11.9 million workers have no chance of returning to their previous job because temporary job losses become permanent. ”
It is unclear where legislators will consider how much aid should be given to the unemployed. However, there is a clear agreement on one thing: time is of the essence.