Congress is rushing to pass a proposed COVID-19 relief bill as millions of Americans face losing their jobless benefits at the end of the month.
Lawmakers in Washington have been deadlocked over another stimulus package for months. Last week, however, key lawmakers appeared to make concessions in hopes a bill could pass before both chambers leave for the holidays.
Leaders in the House and Senate have restarted discussions and say the best chance in passing any relief is by adding it to the annual spending bill. But that would have to happen quickly because the House is scheduled to leave town at the end of the week.
A potential deal is coming down to the wire as 12 million Americans are set to lose their unemployment benefits the day after Christmas. Eviction moratoriums for renters and protections for student borrowers are also set to expire, as well as a federal program for paid family leave.
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On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pitched a $916 billion proposal to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, slightly more than a package that a bipartisan group of lawmakers delivered last week.
Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called it “progress,” but added that it “must not be allowed to obstruct the bipartisan Congressional talks that are underway.” They rejected part of the White House proposal that included a reduction in funding for unemployment benefits from $180 billion to $40 billion, calling it “unacceptable.”
Mnuchin’s proposal comes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier Tuesday said he would be willing to leave out liability protections for businesses sought by Republicans if Democrats hold off on their push for increased state and local funding. But top Democratic leaders rejected that approach.
‘It’s a big scary mess’:12 million Americans to lose jobless aid after Christmas if Congress fails to act
Last week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers released a $908 billion aid proposal, which attracted the support of leading Democrats like Pelosi and some Republicans. It would provide temporary unemployment relief, along with aid for businesses and state and local governments.
McConnell has proposed a separate, smaller $500 billion deal that focuses on helping businesses stay afloat while limiting their legal exposure to coronavirus-related lawsuits.
With a Dec. 11 government shutdown deadline looming, Congress is likely to vote on a one-week stopgap measure this week to fund the federal government to give lawmakers more time to strike a deal on emergency stimulus legislation. On Wednesday, the House plans to vote on the short-term measure to keep the government running through Dec. 18.
Here’s what the potential stimulus bill means for you:
Will you get another stimulus check?
Go to the news source: No extra jobless aid but $600 stimulus checks