What will Americans see in the next stimulus package currently being debated on Capitol Hill to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic? There are certainly different scenarios being talked about by Democrats and Republicans, but it is almost certain that whatever the final outcome is going to be, a stimulus check of up to $1,200 is likely just a part of the relief bill which will ultimately help the American public financially overcome the worst recession in recent memory.
One of the biggest debates, or differences of opinion along party lines, surrounds enhanced unemployment assistance. The final, extra $600 weekly CARES Act unemployment checks were mailed out last week, and surprise, the two political parties have yet to negotiate a new deal.
On Monday, Republicans proposed a stimulus package called the HEALS Act, which stands for Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools. This proposal came over 60 days after Democrats in the House of Representatives passed COVID-19 financial relief legislation to extend federal unemployment. The Republican-backed HEALS measure, however, would cut the extra unemployment benefit from $600 to $200 through October 5.
According to an article on www.cnet.com, from that date forward, the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program “assistance amount would combine with the states’ unemployment offerings to equal 70% of an individual’s previous wages until December 31, 2020.” Negotiations with Democrats will now commence, but so far, the two sides are far apart.
President Trump this week told reporters that the unemployment benefits were too low, stating, “They’re not making them high enough. The Democrats are not taking care of the people.”
After Congress approved the CARES Act in March, $2.2 trillion went to individuals and businesses to help ease their pain, including additional unemployment money. Now, as Democrats in Congress continue to call for an extension of unemployment funds for millions of Americans without work, we have the Heroes Act, approved by the House but not by the U.S. Senate.
It would extend pandemic-related, unemployment benefits through January 31, 2021, while also opening the door for that second, stimulus package. But as we often see in Washington, the fighting, the disagreements, the political division seems to be standing in the way of what’s next, what the American people need, at no fault of their own.
So we wait to see what Congress does. Hopefully that Congressional decision is the right one for all Americans, because so many people across this nation continue to suffer financially, and emotionally, due to this dreaded pandemic.
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