Senate Republicans unveil a stimulus plan that implements $300 weekly federal unemployment benefits but leaves out direct payments

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

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Senate Republicans unveiled a stimulus plan that would implement a $300 federal supplement to state unemployment benefits. But it leaves out a second round of $1,200 direct payments, which helped people make ends meet at the height of the lockdown earlier this year.

Democrats are likely to block the bill, which doesn’t include any extra federal aid for states.

Given its slim odds of passage, the legislation largely appears to be messaging intended to convey the GOP’s biggest priorities for the next coronavirus relief package. 

The bill would put in place a $300 federal unemployment payout through December 27, and enacts liability protections for businesses through the “Safe to Work Act.” That measure raises the bar for hospitals, schools, colleges and universities, and small and large businesses to face coronavirus-related lawsuits.

It didn’t include a second round of direct payments, which Republicans and Democrats had agreed upon in the past. Experts say the money shored up the finances of millions of jobless people as the pandemic shut down the US back in March.

The plan also extends the deadline to September 2021 for states to use $150 billion in federal assistance granted under the Cares Act in March without increasing flexibility or attaching new funds. Many states already allocated their funds to prop up their public health response.

Read more: MORGAN STANLEY: The government’s recession response has the stock market heading for a massive upheaval. Here’s your best strategy to capitalize on the shift.

Republicans and Democrats are still far apart on measures to include in another round of pandemic aid. Democrats are seeking nearly $1 trillion in aid to cash-strapped states alone, a figure that Republicans oppose as too costly and unnecessary.

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Both sides agree the federal government should supplement state unemployment benefits, but they’re divided on the amount to approve. Democrats want to restore the $600 weekly aid that was in place from March to late July, but the GOP plan would revive it at $300-per-week — only half as much.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order last month to provide $300 unemployment benefits through the end of the year. Most states are moving slowly to implement it.

Top congressional Democrats assailed the plan on Tuesday even before it was formally unveiled. In a statement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “Senate Republicans appear dead-set on another bill which doesn’t come close to addressing the problems and is headed nowhere.”

“This emaciated bill is only intended to help vulnerable Republican Senators by giving them a ‘check the box’ vote to maintain the appearance that they’re not held hostage by their extreme right-wing that doesn’t want to spend a nickel to help people,” they said in the statement.

Negotiations between the White House and Democrats fell apart last month amid fierce disagreements on the amount of federal spending needed to keep the economy afloat. Democrats are pushing for at least $2.2 trillion in further spending.

The latest jobs report on Friday showed the US regained 1.4 …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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