January 16, 2021
Senate's $1 trillion bills versus $1.8 trillion White House package: Only one has a stimulus check

What’s in the stimulus bill? Senate’s $500 billion offer vs. $1.8 trillion White House package


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

Angela Lang/CNET

It’s been an eventful — and largely symbolic — day for the state of the stimulus bill. The Senate’s effort to advance a stand-alone bill for small businesses fell flat on Tuesday. Tomorrow, Senate Republicans will bring back their $500 billion “skinny” bill from September, which didn’t pass and was blocked by Democrats. That legislation is not expected to advance either.

On a separate track, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continue to debate an overarching stimulus bill with the hope of passing it by the Nov. 3 election, which is two weeks away. Pelosi set a deadline today for evaluating their progress on a deal, with the upshot that talks will continue on Wednesday.

“Today’s deadline enabled the Speaker and Secretary to see that decisions could be reached and language could be exchanged,” said Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hamill, on Tuesday, saying the show of faith demonstrated “that both sides are serious about finding a compromise.”

So what does that mean for a second stimulus check and everything else that could be in the next COVID relief package? We’ll walk you through the current proposals for a large or small bill — one that would either squeak by in the scant weeks before the Nov. 3 election or perhaps return to the drawing board after the election. This story updates with new information.

What are in the two Senate bills?

The Senate’s stand-alone proposal will not advance: The Senate did not agree on a $500 billion bill 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. The funding is part of larger stimulus proposals.

Skinny” bill revote: On Oct. 21, the Senate will vote again 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. It won’t include a stimulus check for individuals and also isn’t expected to be passed by the House.

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Next stimulus checks: What to expect


Other stand-alone stimulus bill packages we have known

$1,200 stimulus checks: On Oct. 6, after being hospitalized for COVID-19, 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.

Everything in the White House’s $1.8 trillion stimulus bill

For months, Pelosi and Mnuchin have been meeting to discuss the size and approach of the next economic relief bill. Negotiating every day for the last week, the two are coming closer to reaching an agreement. The Republican-controlled Senate has signaled strong objections to the bill, but has indicated they would “consider” it — it’s unclear if that means the Senate would put it to a vote.

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 Trump 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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