October 21, 2020
New stimulus package: What's kept, what's cut? Where it stands today

New stimulus package: What’s kept, what’s cut? Where it stands today


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Talks on a second stimulus check are full steam ahead — or are they? Here’s the latest status update.


Angela Lang/CNET

“The discussion from day to day can be confusing for all of us to follow.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday, in the wake of yet another about-face from President Donald Trump over the standing of the stimulus bill designed to bring a $1,200 stimulus check, aid for tens of millions of unemployed Americans and aid for businesses large and small, including airlines like United and American.

Trump — who is being treated for COVID-19 with a steroid known to cause “euphoria” — has a stance on stimulus that’s boomeranged over the course of days from strong support on Saturday toward a final bill, to calling off negotiations entirely, to urging for standalone bills, to — it appears — supporting a comprehensive package one again. The effects of the steroid dexamethasone has been questioned in relation to the president’s changing position on stimulus relief.

The president’s current moves to urge negotiators to make a deal muddies the waters over what could or could not be included in a final bill — either standalone, skinny, or comprehensive.

Read on to learn the proposed benefits could becomes law before or after the Nov. 3 election. For more information, read up on the top things to know about stimulus checks and how stimulus checks and taxes are intertwined. This story is updated often.

Second stimulus check for $1,200 max could still be on the table

Prior to Trump’s announcement, Democratic and Republican lawmakers had settled on the need for a second direct payment of up to $1,200 per eligible American adult and additional money for dependents (find out who counts as a dependent and how old you have to be to qualify for a check of your own). 

The bill the House approved Oct. 1 — which Democrats referred to as an “updated version of The Heroes Act” (PDF) — includes similar provisions for stimulus checks as the March CARES Act and expands who counts as a dependent, following the requirements set out in the Heroes Act

The new bill — which could form the basis for talks once they resume — would also send $500 to any dependent the tax payer can claim as a dependent, regardless of age, according to the new bill (“the number of dependents of the taxpayer for such taxable year.”)

Mnuchin was using the Problem Solvers $1.5 trillion proposal as the starting point for his deal. Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted support for the Problem Solvers propoal on Wednesday.

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Money for the airline industry to prevent layoffs

With the breakdown of talks, airlines are threatening to lay off thousands of workers. The new House bill (which again, is not law) would have extended the payroll support program to the airline industry to prevent mass layoffs. American Airlines and United Airlines moved ahead on Oct. 1 to furlough 32,000 employees as aid lapsed. Pelosi and Mnuchin continue to talk about aid for airlines.

Enhanced unemployment to sustain millions of job seekers

A stop-gap measure for the federal government to fund $300 a week in enhanced unemployment pay was scheduled to run six weeks and has already ended in some states.

A major point of contention in the debate, Democrats want a new bill to provide $600 per week on top of states’ benefit just like the CARES Act did in March. Republicans want to slim the figure to $300. The Problem Solvers proposal puts the figure at $450 for eight weeks, with an increase afterward. The new House bill includes $600 for unemployment benefits through January 2021.

Payroll Protection Program to aid small businesses

Intended to help employers keep workers on the payroll, the Paycheck Protection Program in the CARES Act provides forgivable loans to small businesses as an incentive to keep employees on the payroll — people who might have otherwise have lost their jobs during the pandemic. Under the revised Heroes Act, the plan would include the restaurant industry, independent live venue operators and the airline industry.

Employee tax credits to help businesses keep staff

A program administered by the IRS already exists designed to give employers a tax break for keeping employees on the payroll, through the end of 2020. The new House bill would have renewed the tax credits to encourage employers to keep workers on payroll. 

$100 bills

Enhanced unemployment benefits are already ending in many states, leaving people waiting anxiously for a new relief package that includes more funding for the program.


James Martin/CNET

Extended eviction ban and potential rental assistance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used an obscure health law to suspend evictions through Dec. 13, as long as renters complete the necessary paperwork. 

Without eviction protections, it’s been estimated that up to 40 million people across 17 million households could lose their homes if the economy doesn’t recover before the latest protections lapse. The new House proposal includes eviction protections as well as financial support for residential rental property owners to compensate for reductions in rent payments.

Protection for businesses from certain coronavirus lawsuits

Liability protection is high on the agenda for Republican lawmakers. Introduced in the Republicans’ HEALS Act proposal, the measure would place a limit on lawsuits levied against employers, schools and health care providers in relation to coronavirus exposure, with exceptions made for gross negligence.

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With mail-in ballots expected to rise this election year, the USPS will feel greater strain, with fewer resources.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Money to help the USPS handle election season

Both Democrats and Republicans have advanced bills with an eye to help fund a US Postal Service in crisis ahead of an election in which up to 80 million people are expected to vote by mail. The new House bill includes additional funding for the USPS. The House of Representatives previously passed a USPS bill that was not picked up by the Senate. The Senate’s “skinny” bill didn’t clear its chamber

Election security support

The pandemic is expected to create a surge of mail-in ballots during the Nov. 3 US presidential election and many have expressed concerns over how the USPS will handle this. The government hasn’t seen evidence of a coordinated effort to commit mail-in voting fraud. But the new House bill comes with funding to ensure election security. 

Funding for schools to fight the coronavirus on campus

Funding to pay for hygiene protocols, testing and other accommodations during the coronavirus pandemic are top priorities on both sides of the aisle to help mitigate the virus’ spread among students and faculty. The new House bill includes money specifically for schools. 

As some schools opened through August, data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association shows a 14% increase in cases among children in the previous two weeks, from Sept. 10 to Sept. 24.





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