As was expected, the White House did come up with a counteroffer on Wednesday afternoon, in response to the House Democrats’ relief bill, which includes coronavirus stimulus checks. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi likely rejected it because the House went ahead to approve the $2.2 trillion bill.
Counteroffer includes coronavirus stimulus checks
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin proposed a $1.62 trillion relief bill on Wednesday, according to Lindsey McPherson of Roll Call. This new bill included increased funding for state and local governments and more federal unemployment benefits.
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The new bill offers $250 billion for state and local governments. This number is still well below the $436 billion that Democrats included in the updated Heroes Act. Nevertheless, it still is an improvement. It marks the first time a Republican proposal has raised the funding for state and city governments.
This new bill addresses another sticking point between the two sides. As per the details of the new bill, it raises federal unemployment benefits to $400, retroactive to September 12 and lasting through the end of the year. Though it is more than the $300 benefit proposed by the Senate Republicans, it still is $200 less than what Democrats are demanding.
This new counteroffer includes $1,200 in coronavirus stimulus checks as well. Mnuchin earlier confirmed that any relief package would include stimulus checks.
"We have reached an agreement that if there is a deal, there are direct payments similar to last time that are in the package," Mnuchin told Fox Business.
The new offer from the White House also includes $150 billion in education funding. However, it is still $74 billion less than what is being demanded by the Democrats.
Is it much closer to what Democrats want?
Mnuchin’s new proposal includes $75 billion for coronavirus testing and tracing. This amount is at par with what Democrats demanded. Additionally, the counteroffer also includes $50 billion for hospitals and health care workers and another 50 billion for vaccine production and distribution.
Overall, the new bill allots $175 billion in total for health care. However, it still is $74 billion less than what Democrats proposed in the HEROES Act.
Further, the bill also includes $15 billion for food assistance. This amount is in line with what Democrats want for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Mnuchin’s new offer also includes $10 billion in direct aid to the U.S. Postal Service. The updated HEROES Act wants $15 billion for the postal service, while the original HEROES Act proposed $25 billion.
Moreover, the counteroffer also includes $160 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and an additional $10 billion for minority-led businesses. Also, it offers $120 billion in aid for the airlines, restaurants and live venues, with $20 billion included in that amount specifically for the airlines.
Additionally, the bill includes $28 billion in student loan relief, $20 billion in aid for farmers, $25 billion in help for child care providers and $60 billion in rental and mortgage assistance.