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Senate Republicans pitch 'skinny' stimulus bill — without $1,200 check

President Trump and Mitch McConnell
(Image credit: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

With stimulus check 2 negotiations between Democrats and the Trump administration still on pause, Senate Republicans are floating the idea of a “skinny” stimulus package that would provide reduced federal unemployment benefits but no funds for another round of $1,200 stimulus checks. 

The draft proposal includes a $300-per-week federal unemployment supplement through the end of the year, the same amount the federal government would be committed to paying under President Trump’s recent executive order. That’s half of the $600 benefit provided by the CARES Act and which expired on July 31.  

Ongoing federal unemployment has been a major sticking point in the negotiations between Democrats and the White House, with a number of proposals on the table for everything from ongoing $600 weekly payments to an immediate reduction in benefits followed by a complete phase-out over a few months. As talks have stalled, though, out-of-work individuals have been without the federal supplement since the last week in July. 

What’s not in the “skinny” bill: stimulus check 2. Despite general agreement from all sides to send another round of $1,200 payments to Americans, the Republican proposal reportedly does not include direct payments. Presumably, this would come later as part of another stage of negotiations.

What else is in the 'skinny' bill?

The new relief package also provides $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service, which has made headlines in recent weeks as the impact of changing leadership and new operational policies on the 2020 election have raised concerns, especially among Democrats. House lawmakers are being called back to Washington for the weekend to vote on an aid package for the USPS. 

The bill would also include funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, school reopening and coronavirus testing and vaccine production. But it’s unclear at this point how much support the bill really has or whether it would bring negotiators back to the table. 

“There’s not much of a reason to put a bill together and vote for it unless there’s majority support for it, which means almost all of the Republicans,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R–MO)

Meanwhile, House Democrats are urging leadership to get moving on additional aid for unemployed workers. 

“We owe it to people waiting to get back to work across the country not only to extend unemployment benefits to help them pay their bills, but to tie these benefits to economic conditions so workers are not held hostage by another cliff like this one,” several lawmakers wrote in a letter on Tuesday.

What about stimulus check 2?

Even though this skinny bill doesn’t include stimulus check 2, lawmakers have agreed that another round of direct payments would be beneficial for eligible Americans. 

The CARES Act passed this spring sent $1,200 to low- and middle-income individuals with a $500 supplement for dependents ages 16 and under. Proposals for stimulus check 2, including the House-approved HEROES Act and the Senate Republicans’ HEALS Act, would send an additional $1,200 payment to those who qualified under the CARES Act. Both bills would also expand dependent benefits, though with different dollar amounts.