Republicans and Democrats are closing in on a deal on a coronavirus relief package, which may include direct payments to Americans as the previous package will expire at the end of this month.
The package costs $900 billion, but it does not include two controversial issues, one of them is funds provided to state and local governments and the other one is a liability shield for businesses against lawsuits filed regarding the coronavirus.
The top four leaders – House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi along with McConnell, Chuck Schumer, and Kevin McCarthy – are in talks of also adding a stimulus check to the relief package.
However, there’s speculation on whether the check will be as large as the one provided in March through the CARES Act. The act provided $1,200 to adults as well as $500 for children under the age of 17.
They met several times on Tuesday to discuss the relief package and negotiations will most likely continue until the following day. The meeting was held after a bipartisan group of senators introduced a stimulus package worth $748 billion.
Jobless aid for 16 weeks amounting to $300 a week was included in the package as well as $300 for small businesses. Moreover $82 billion is being provided to schools and $35 billion to healthcare workers. For the two contentious issues, $160 billion will be provided, if approved.
McConnell announced that they have made major progress on the relief package. Schumer also spoke on the matter, saying that even though a deal is almost done, he and his party will call for another relief package after President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.
Federal unemployment benefits might also be extended as part of the deal; however, it may not be as large as $600 weekly provisions proposed previously that expired in July. The bill also includes funds for healthcare, education, transportation, and vaccine distribution.
These negotiations continue as the country’s economy is dwindling and unemployment continues to rise. According to the Labor Department, only 245,000 jobs were created last month, which has been the smallest number since the beginning of the recovery period.
At the end of this month, two federal unemployment relief programs that were provided as part of the CARES Act in March will expire. These would lead to an estimated 12 million workers being laid-off and left jobless after Christmas.