November 27, 2020
Senate's $1 trillion bills versus $1.8 trillion White House package: Only one has a stimulus check

Senate’s ‘skinny’ stimulus package versus $1.8 trillion White House offer: What’s in both bills?


Get to know what’s in the bills that will be voted on soon.

Angela Lang/CNET

The Senate will vote again Wednesday on a $500 billion “skinny” bill from September, as a last-ditch effort for Republicans who dominate the chamber to show they’re working on COVID relief aid. Meanwhile, the White House and Democratic negotiators are working toward a new goal — getting the wording down in the next 48 hours to ready another economic stimulus package for a vote before the Nov. 3 election.

“We’d have to have our legislation all written by the end of this week,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Bloomberg TV on Tuesday.

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has committed to a Senate vote on a new stimulus deal passed by the House and supported by the administration, he didn’t give a timeline for a vote. And McConnell has reportedly warned the White House about making a deal before the election, just 13 days away.

So what’s the difference between the two bills, from a second stimulus check to unemployment support? We’ll walk you through the current proposals for large and (relatively) small bills. This story updates with new information.

What are Senate Republicans proposing?

Aside from the ongoing negotiations between the White House and Democrats, Senate Republicans advanced two economic-assistance proposals this week, one that has failed to advance and one that is being voted on today.

Skinny” bill revisited: Today, the Senate plans to vote on a $500 billion package that includes a $300 enhanced unemployment benefit and aid for small businesses, funding for school reopenings, and support for the US Postal Service. It also has limited liability protection for employers and health care workers, which sets limits on who can sue if they contract COVID-19. The proposal doesn’t include a stimulus check for individuals and isn’t expected to pass the House of Representatives in a vote.

The Senate’s stand-alone PPP proposal did not advance: On Tuesday, the Senate lacked the votes to advance a standalone $500 billion proposal to extend the Paycheck Protection Program. This provision was part of this spring’s CARES Act and provided forgivable loans to small businesses as an incentive to keep employees on the payroll.

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Next stimulus checks: What to expect


What other stand-alone bills have been suggested?

$1,200 stimulus checks: On Oct. 6, after being hospitalized for COVID-19, President Donald Trump said he’d sign a bill authorizing another $1,200 check immediately. Another direct payment to qualified people is one of the areas that everyone — both Republicans and Democrats — appear to agree on.

Airline assistance: With the airline industry hit hard by the coronavirus-induced economic downturn and starting to furlough workers, negotiators have tagged airline assistance for stand-alone legislation. “Let me just be really clear,” Pelosi said Oct. 8. “I have been very open to having a stand-alone bill for the airlines.” The House earlier passed a $28.8 billion airline support bill that Pelosi suggested could be the starting point for legislation. 

Support for the US Postal Service: This summer, the House passed a bill that would address concerns about the service and the upcoming election and provide $25 billion in additional funding. The Senate didn’t take up the bill.

What’s in the White House’s $1.8 trillion stimulus bill?

For months, Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have discussed the size and approach of the next economic relief bill. Negotiating every day for several weeks, the two say they’re coming closer to reaching an agreement. While the Republican-controlled Senate has signaled strong objections to the bill, McConnell said if the package does come to the Senate, he will bring it to a vote.

Pelosi said the goal is to have legislation ready by the election, but if the two sides can’t reach that goal, talks will continue. “We still have a responsibility to continue the negotiations,” Pelosi said on Bloomberg TV Tuesday.

According to The Washington Post, Mnuchin’s current offer began at $1.8 trillion and includes:

Another stimulus payment: Stimulus checks up to $1,200 for eligible adults and $1,000 for qualifying child dependents (the CARES Act set dependent payments at $500).

Unemployment benefits: The proposal sets enhanced unemployment benefits at $400 a week (down from the $600 included in the CARES Act but up from the $300 that the president authorized this summer through executive action).

Funding for coronavirus testing and tracing: Earlier this week, Mnuchin ceded ground on this previous blocker, saying the White House would include money for coronavirus testing and tracing into its stimulus offer

State and local funding: A big sticking point, the proposal includes $300 billion for cities and states, up from $250 billion in an earlier proposal.

$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

Everything in the Democrats’ $2.2 trillion stimulus bill

Pelosi continues to point to the updated version of The Heroes Act (PDF) as the basis for a new bill. The House passed the bill on Oct. 1 largely along party lines. The new Heroes Act includes:

Direct payments: The current Democratic proposal includes payments of up to $1,200 per individual and $500 for each dependent.

Payroll support for small businesses and airline workers: The Democratic plan would refund payroll protections and extend the program to airline workers

Unemployment benefits: The plan would reauthorize $600 federal unemployment payments, through January 2021.

State and local funding: The bill would provide assistance to state and local governments to pay essential workers, including first responders and health workers.

Housing assistance: The proposal would renew financial support for renters and homeowners to meet rental and mortgage payments.

For more information, here’s what you need to know about coronavirus hardship loans and unemployment insurance, and what you can do if you’ve lost your job.

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