The White House’s latest proposal offered $600 stimulus checks for nearly every American but dropped a provision that would fund a federal unemployment boost entirely, The New York Times reports.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin offered Democrats a $916 billion plan that would provide $600 direct payments to nearly every adult and child.
The plan offers $40 billion to maintain some federal unemployment programs but dropped the $300 weekly enhanced benefit offered by a bipartisan group of senators. A plan rolled out by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell included no unemployment boost as well, but did not include any direct payments either.
Mnuchin’s offer also includes legal immunity for businesses and billions for small business loans and vaccine distribution. The plan also includes money for state and local governments but far less than Democrats had pushed for.
The original Cares Act provided $1,200 checks to adults and $500 for children while funding enhanced federal unemployment benefits at $600 per week.
Democrats reject offer:
“The president’s proposal must not be allowed to obstruct the bipartisan congressional talks that are underway,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said, calling the unemployment cut “unacceptable.”
The Democrats have embraced a bipartisan Senate proposal that would provide $908 billion for a $300 per week federal unemployment boost, state and local aid, small business loans, and money for health and vaccines but no direct payments.
McConnell, who has been a roadblock in many of the negotiations, proposed dropping state and local aid, a big Republican no-go, in exchange for dropping the Republican demand for legal liability protections.
“We know the new administration is going to be asking for another package,” he said. “What I recommend is we set aside liability, and set aside state and local, and pass those things that we agree on, knowing full well we’ll be back at this after the first of the year.”
Democrats accused McConnell of trying to sink the negotiations.
“He’s sabotaging good-faith bipartisan negotiations because his partisan ideological effort is not getting a good reception,” Schumer said.
“Leader McConnell’s efforts to undermine good-faith, bipartisan negotiations are appalling,” added Pelosi.
Bipartisan push for direct payments:
Senators like Bernie Sanders and Josh Hawley have demanded another round of $1,200 direct payments be included in the next package but there appears to be little movement in getting these payments in the next round.
The bipartisan Senate proposal appears to be gaining the most ground.
“I hope that we can come up with an agreement,” said Sen. Susan Collins, a member of the bipartisan group. “If we can’t, then I see a certain logic in passing what we do agree with, given that there’s widespread support for another round of P.P.P., helping our schools, our health care providers, providing more money for testing and vaccine distribution.”