White House Proposes $ 916 Billion Coronavirus Package Excludes $ 600 Stimulus Control and Federal Unemployment Benefits

Steven Mnuchin
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will leave for a meeting during talks on a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) aid package to the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 23, 2020. Joshua Roberts / Reuters
  • U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday he shared a $ 916 billion stimulus proposal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

  • The proposal “includes money for state and local governments,” Mnuchin said, “and strong liability protection for businesses, schools and universities.”

  • Mnuchin made no mention of the new stimulus checks, but the package includes $ 600 payments, Kevin McCarthy, the house’s minority leader, told Bloomberg.

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The White House has offered a new $ 916 billion stimulus proposal that is slightly larger than the bipartisan measure currently being developed by the Center Group of Senators.

Finance Minister Steven Mnuchin said in a statement issued Tuesday night that the measure includes “money for state and local government” and “strong liability protection for businesses, schools and universities.”

He said he discussed the package in a phone conversation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In a statement on Tuesday night, Pelosi and Senate minority Chuck Schumer noted that the proposal would reduce unemployment insurance spending in the bipartisan framework from $ 180 billion to $ 40 billion, calling it “unacceptable.”

“While progress is that leader McConnell has signed a $ 916 billion offer based on the bipartisan framework, the president’s proposal should not hinder ongoing bipartisan congressional talks,” Pelosi and Schumer said.

Mnuchin made no mention of the new stimulus checks, which have been a priority for President Donald Trump for months. However, Republican Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader of the House, says the package includes $ 600 in direct payments, plus an additional $ 600 per child.

“It’s a much better product,” McCarthy told Bloomberg, comparing it to the $ 916 billion proposal currently being pushed out in the Senate that doesn’t include another round of incentive scrutiny. Democrats and some Republicans are stepping up their calls for direct payments in the next aid package.

During the day, The Washington Post reported that the White House is forcing Senate Republicans to pick up a $ 600 stimulus check. “Although the amount has not yet been determined, direct payments to U.S. workers remain a top priority for the president,” White House spokesman Ben Williamson said.

The Post later reported that the plan did not include any special federal unemployment benefits. Earlier in the summer, Trump allowed a $ 300 federal allowance for unemployed workers, thus avoiding Congress. The program set up under the executive order lasted only six weeks.

The Trump administration’s new stimulus offer curbed a raging Tuesday on Capitol Hill as lawmakers struggled to settle significant differences over another federal rescue package. Both sides have not moved closer to resolving disputes over state aid and corporate liability protection against corona virus lawsuits, which are one of the most contentious issues in the negotiations.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered to set them aside so they could be dealt with in another aid package early next year. Republican Kentucky has previously called the responsibility shield a “red line” that must be passed in all aid legislation.

But Democrats have rejected McConnell’s overture, warning that failure to help state and local governments could speed up layoffs among firefighters, police and other public workers. Helping them has long been a top priority for democracy.

“State and local funding is bilateral, in contrast to the extreme proposal for leading corporate responsibility made by Leader McConnell, which has no democratic support,” Schumer said in a news conference on Tuesday. McConnell was accused of trying to “sabotage” the negotiations.

The window closes for Congress to step in and prevent many federal aid programs from expiring. About 12 million people could lose their unemployment benefits the day after Christmas if lawmakers don’t pass a package to renew the federal unemployment program. The moratorium on evictions and federally paid sick, medical, and family leave programs will also end without congressional action.

The Democrat-led House and the GOP-controlled Senate will approve a one-week spending bill that will keep the government open until Dec. 18 and take more time for aid talks. On both sides of the corridor, congressional leaders have indicated they want to attach a draft aid plan to a broader government spending package.

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