House Democrats passed another coronavirus relief bill on Thursday, but they have nearly no chance of advancing it through the Republican-controlled Senate. In response, the White House unveiled a $1.6 trillion counteroffer that includes less funding for unemployment and for state and local governments.
The Democrats’ $2.2 trillion package, an updated version of the Heroes Act, was unveiled Monday evening before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, The Washington Post reported. They agreed to talk again Tuesday after negotiations stalled in recent months, according to the publication.
Democrats and Republicans have struggled to agree on a follow-up relief package to the CARES Act that went into law in March and provided most Americans with $1,200 payments during the coronavirus pandemic.
Pelosi suggested President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis on Friday could expedite passing a stimulus plan.
“This kind of changes the dynamic because here they see the reality of what we have been saying all along — this is a vicious virus,” Pelosi said on MSNBC. “I’m optimistic, I’m always optimistic. We always have to find a path, that is our responsibility to do so, and I believe that we will.”
In a letter to House Democrats, Pelosi said “our negotiations with the [Trump administration] continue, and I am hopeful we can reach agreement” despite “significant disagreement in key areas.”
Pelosi listed unemployment benefits, state and local government funding, the Child Tax Credit, and funding for COVID-19 testing and tracing as areas of discrepancy between the Democrats’ plan and the White House offer.
Some Republicans balked at the cost of the White House counteroffer, saying they wouldn’t support the plan.
“I think we’ve made it very clear that there’s so much money ... that isn’t even out of Washington yet,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa said, according to The Hill. “We’re more in the neighborhood of something below $1 trillion.”
Here are some of the key provisions of the two plans.
The Democrats’ plan includes $1,200 direct payments, plus $500 for all dependents, including adults and students under 24 years old.
Mnuchin confirmed on Wednesday that their offer would include stimulus checks as well.
“We have reached an agreement that if there is a deal, there are direct payments similar to last time that are in the package,” he said, according to Business Insider.
The Democrats’ package includes reviving the $600 federal unemployment benefits from the CARES Act that expired at the end of July.
The White House offer would include $400 federal benefits per week through the rest of this year, Roll Call reported.
“The GOP number does not measure up to the need that we both recognize, particularly as long-term unemployment rises and families are exhausting their benefits,” Pelosi wrote in the letter.
Funding for state/local governments and schools
The Heroes Act would allot $436 billion for state and local governments while the White House proposes $250 billion, Roll Call reported. That is $100 billion more than what the White House offered during the summer, according to the publication.
The White House also offered $150 billion for education and helping with reopening schools, while the Democrats want $225 billion for schools.
Funding for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing
The White House has offered $175 billion for health care and COVID-19 testing, which earmarks $50 billion for producing and distributing vaccines and $50 billion for health care providers, according to Roll Call.
The Democrats’ plan allots $249 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to fulfill those needs and others.
Child Tax Credit
The Democrats’ package makes the Child Tax Credit refundable, according to Forbes. The current tax credit is $2,000 and only $1,400 is refundable in 2020 for those who don’t owe taxes. The bill would allow individuals to get the full $2,000 back.
The White House’s plan doesn’t include funding for the credit.
“As of yesterday, they’re still at zero,” Pelosi told Bloomberg on Thursday. “We’re hoping they will come up on that.”