On Wednesday, the Trump administration proposed to the Democrats a $916 billion stimulus plan for the U.S. economy in light of the second shutdown many states are going through to contain the pandemic, looking to reach an agreement on the stimulus this year.
The proposal was announced by the Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin after the Democratic Party rejected Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell’s proposal. This proposal sought to reduce the scope of the stimulus, excluding aid to state and local governments.
The proposal comes at a time when, despite the fact that the bipartisan commission managed to reach a specific amount for the stimulus package, they are unable to agree on the details of the plan.
On the one hand, Republicans insist that there must be legal protection for businesses if their employees get sick from Covid-19 to avoid suing businesses in the future, a proposal that Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren finds unacceptable.
On the other hand, Democrats insist on a new check of $1,200 per adult in households and $500 per child as well as a package of monetary transfers to states and local governments.
The White House is pushing Republicans to include a new direct aid of $600 for individuals in the stimulus package. These direct payments were included in the proposal that the White House sent to House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi. The White House offer did not include the $300 unemployment insurance agreed to by the bipartisan committee.
Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer found the lack of unemployment insurance for families unacceptable, and in a joint statement they said that “the President’s proposal must not be allowed to obstruct the bipartisan Congressional talks that are underway.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, along with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, supported the proposed $600 aid check in the White House proposal. According to McCarthy, both the Republican Party leadership and the White House believe that the stimulus package should include both aid to local governments and legal protection for businesses during the pandemic, or neither alternative at all.
According to McConnell, there are still differences in the stimulus plan, but a deal could be coming next week. For the senator, this stimulus package should focus on rapid vaccine distribution and support for small businesses. In addition, he says the next stimulus package promised by Joe Biden should address the other issues currently being discussed on Capitol Hill.
The new White House proposal includes both money for local governments and legal insurance for businesses, according to Mnuchin. Although President Trump supported a check for $1200 to individuals, like in the first lockdown, Mnuchin believes that figure is excessive and advocates half that amount.
Interestingly, Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders will file a joint letter with Republican Senator Josh Hawley to pressure Trump to veto the stimulus deal until it includes a direct payment to families.
Along with state and local aid, the $908 billion stimulus plan at the center of current negotiations would add $300 to weekly unemployment benefits, provide $82 billion for schools, $6 billion for distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, and $288 billion in relief for small businesses.