With millions of Americans out of work, struggling to pay rent, and with few sources of relief as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate our most vulnerable communities, many are wondering...government wya? Outlets are reporting that following Congress’ summer recess, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell is gearing up to share new stimulus legislation next week.
It’s important to note that Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives previously passed a $3 trillion economic relief package called the HEROES Act (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions). The legislation, which would provide some student loan forgiveness and financial support for local municipalities, passed on May 15 and is currently collecting dust on McConnell’s desk.
Instead, it looks like Republicans will be spearheading the next attempt at economic relief. The first stimulus package, the CARES act, provided money to hospitals, expanded unemployment benefits, and gave Americans within a certain income range a $1,200 check.
Those expanded unemployment benefits, which include an additional $600 per week, are set to expire on July 31. According to USA Today, it doesn’t look like Republicans have any intention of renewing those benefits. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin told CNBC that future unemployment benefits will not be any higher than 100 percent of an employee’s prior salary, which coincides with the popular Republican talking point that people won't want to go back to work if they make more on unemployment than at their job. That point ignores the fact that the benefit expires and is therefore temporary.
Without expanded unemployment benefits, it seems like any money given to average citizens from the federal government will come in the form of another stimulus check. As Forbes reports, both Democrats and Republicans seem to be in favor of an additional check, but less Americans may be eligible this time around as Republicans seek to lower the salary threshold from $75,000 to around $40,000. Reports suggest that the checks themselves be around the same amount, if not a little higher.
Finally, it’s likely Republicans will use the new stimulus package to encourage Americans to re-enter schools and workplaces, even as cases of coronavirus spike around the country. Bonuses for returning to work, business liability protection, and extra financial aid to state’s opening their schools for the 2020 year are on the table, per Forbes.
It’s unclear if the new stimulus package will provide people with the stability they need to push this country out of the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression, but as coronavirus cases rise it's increasingly obvious that we can’t wait any longer.