Tough Negotiations Ahead As Republicans Unveil Their Economic Stimulus Proposal

( Senate Republicans have released their long-awaited version of the next coronavirus economic stimulus package, a bill they are calling the HEALS Act.

The $1 trillion package include another round of direct payments to Americans, more funding for the popular Paycheck Protection Program, funding for K-12 schools and colleges, liability protection, and a continued boost to unemployment benefits, albeit at a lower level than it is currently.

Now that the package has been introduced, the real work begins — negotiating with Democrats to get a bipartisan bill in front of President Donald Trump to sign. Doing so in a timely manner could prove extremely difficult, though.

Not only are Democrats and Republicans pretty far off on a lot of aspects of the relief package, there are many within the Republican Party who aren’t in favor of more massive spending.

From the Senate floor on Monday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked:

“Which version of our distinguished Democratic colleagues are the American people about to get? Are they going to get the Democratic Party we got in March when our colleagues met in good faith negotiations and worked with us to turn our framework into a bipartisan product?

“We have produced a tailored and targeted draft that will cut right to the heart of three distinct crises facing our country: getting kids back in school, getting workers back to work and winning the health care fight against the virus.”

In response to seeing the bill, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed his frustration. He said:

“We had hoped there would be a bill. Instead, in the Senate, they put together little pieces here, and there, and everywhere. It’s pretty clear they don’t have 51 votes in the Senate among the Republicans for a proposal. It’s frustrating.”

Negotiations are expected to be tough, to say the least. Back in May, House Democrats introduced a proposal called the HEROES Act that totals roughly $3 trillion. That $2 trillion discrepancy alone is likely to be a huge sticking point as Democrats and Republicans try to iron out a bill that would work for both parties.

One of the biggest differences in opinion comes in regard to unemployment benefits. Currently, people receive $600 per week from the federal government on top of their state unemployment benefits. That benefit is set to end next Friday, though.

Democrats want to extend that benefit through the end of the year. Republicans, meanwhile, want to cut it back significantly, saying it discourages people from going back to work, since it results in some people earning more on unemployment than they would with their salary.

The Republicans have proposed cutting that federal benefit boost to $200 per week for at least 60 days. Once states are able to replace 70% of a person’s lost wages, then the federal benefit would go away altogether.

Republicans are touting this as still a significant help to American people. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said:

“The boosted unemployment benefits are significantly more than the Democratic Senate and Democratic president approved in the 2009 economic crisis.”