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Get to know what’s in the bills that’ll soon be voted on.


Angela Lang/CNET

We’re still playing the waiting game. Congress has returned home for the Nov. 3 election without approving another round ofeconomic stimulus checks. Since the middle of May, when the House first passed the $3 trillion Heroes Act, Congress has made half a dozen or so attempts to pass additional assistance, from the Senate’s HEALS Act in July to a $500 billion bill in the middle of October that failed to advance.

So what’s been keeping the House and Senate from passing additional financial assistance for an American economy that according to the Chair of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell has “still a long way to go” to fully recover?

Here’s what the two sides say are the main issues standing in the way of a deal. We regularly update this story with new information.

What keeps Republicans and Democrats from agreeing on another rescue bill?

Over the past few weeks, the two sides have hinted at roadblocks that are keeping them from reaching an agreement. Here’s what we know.

State and local funding: On Oct. 20, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described state and local funding as one of the two bookends that are keeping the two sides from a deal. Pelosi said the funding would go to paying the salaries for first responders, health workers and teachers. The Trump administration has balked at the funding, calling it a bailout of Democrat-run cities.

Liability protection from COVID-19-related illness and more: The other bookend, according to Pelosi, is liability protections for businesses and schools. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly said any new stimulus bill must include liability protections that would limit people from suing businesses (for example, employers) if they acquired the coronavirus, except for instances of gross negligence. 

“I want to make sure that we protect the people we’ve already sent assistance to who are going to be set up for an avalanche of lawsuits if we don’t act,” McConnell said in April. Pelosi has resisted these protections, saying “I think that there is a balance that can be struck, but it isn’t the McConnell language.”


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Testing, tracing and treatment: Pelosi frequently calls funding for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures and support hospitals and health care providers as necessary to “crush the virus.” Pelosi said the two sides are still apart here, and Politico reports the White House has not responded with new language.

What is in the proposed bill under negotiation?

When the $1.8 trillion White House offer first came through on Oct. 9, we glimpsed the starting point of what the bill could contain. Since then, bits and pieces of information have trickled out, giving us a rough sketch of the bill’s funding. 

It’s estimated that the package could now be worth $1.9 trillion or even more. The CARES Act from March cost $2 trillion and the House of Representatives’ revised Heroes Act came in at $2.2 trillion. Here’s what we know based on early details from The Washington Post and what we’ve heard since.

Another stimulus payment: Stimulus checks of up to $1,200 for eligible adults and $1,000 for qualifying child dependents (the CARES Act set dependent payments at $500). Here’s how you can calculate your total sum if this change sticks. 

Unemployment benefits: The proposal originally set enhanced unemployment benefits at $400 a week. That’s down from the $600 included in the CARES Act but up from the $300 that the president authorized this summer through executive action. The final figure remains a sticking point in negotiations.

School and child care funding: This appears to be another blocker that Pelosi is maneuvering to get into the final bill. “The education piece is another policy piece where we have some disagreement,” she said Sunday on State of the Union.

Details we don’t know about the next economic stimulus bill

There is much the two sides have not revealed about the current plan, either in specific details or cost. Among the areas that two sides have have gone into detail include:

For more information, here’s what you need to know about coronavirus hardship loans and unemployment insurance, and what you can do if you’ve lost your job.

source: cnet.com

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