Congress has approved roughly $2.5 trillion since March to rescue an economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
And it doesn’t look like it will be nearly enough.
Lawmakers are working on a fifth round of stimulus relief that could dwarf the four previous rounds of assistance combined.
The Democratic-led House has passed the HEROES Act, a roughly $3.4 trillion bill that would provide a second round of direct payments to millions of Americans, provide nearly $1 trillion to revenue-strapped states and local governments, and provide billions for housing and food assistance.
The Republican-controlled Senate has introduced its counter-proposal, the HEALS Act, a $1.1 trillion package that also includes direct payments but no federal aid for housing, food or state and local governments. It has yet to pass the chamber.
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Here are some of the key similarities and differences between the two proposals.
The Democratic bill proposes extending the current benefit of $600 per week (which ends July 31) through December, a federal bonus on top of what states pay. The Republican plan proposes cutting that amount to $200 through September and then limiting the maximum benefit (state and federal combined) to 70% of an applicant’s pay moving forward.
Both bills would provide another stimulus check to millions of Americans under the same rules as the CARES Act: $1,200 for individuals earning up to $75,000 (phasing out at $99,000); and $2,400 for married couples earning up to $150,000 (phasing out at $198,000). The Democratic bill would be more generous for dependents ($1,200 for each dependent – up to three – versus $500 for each dependent in the GOP bill).
Democrats propose nearly $1 trillion in direct aid to help states, counties and cities whose budgets have been decimated by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The Republican bill has no such aid though it does provide states and local governments more flexibility in how they use aid provided in earlier stimulus bills.
The Democrats’ proposal provides roughly $200 billion in housing assistance to help renters and homeowners affected by coronavirus avoid eviction/foreclosure. The GOP bill includes no such aid.
The Democrats provide about $60 billion to reopen schools, compared to $70 billion in the GOP bill. Each also provides about $30 billion to assist colleges. But the Democratic bill says the nearly $1 trillion in aid for state and local governments could be used for education as well. The GOP bill does not and says that a portion of the education aid must go to help private schools reopen as well.
Democrats are proposing roughly $380 billion on ways to combat the coronavirus. Most of that would be used on two priorities: $100 billion to reimburse hospitals and other health care providers for pandemic-related costs, and $98 billion to assist laid-off workers pay for the health coverage they lost because of the economic steps taken to control the pandemic. The Republican plan sets aside $111 billion, much of it to help federal agencies and private companies develop vaccines and therapeutic remedies ($50 billion) or to help medical providers cover costs ($25 billion).
Senate Republicans release info on $1 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package
The new GOP plan includes another check for Americans and continued help for the unemployed.
There’s a big gulf on COVID-19 testing and contact tracing as well with Democrats proposing $75 billion and Republicans $16 billion.
The Democrats provide $290 billion in business assistance but largely in tax credits to companies that keep employees on the payroll and in tax breaks for pandemic-related expenses. The Democratic plan also includes a number of other priorities, including $190 billion in “hazard pay” for essential workers nationwide, $35 billion for food assistance to poor families, and $3.6 billion to help states run their elections in November. The GOP proposal does not include money for those but it does provide $158 billion in grants and loans to help small businesses stay afloat.