Lawmakers and Trump administration officials have been inching closer to an agreement on total spending for a second stimulus package, but there’s still a nearly $1 trillion gap to fill before a bill can move forward.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has said President Trump is “willing to sign something at $1.3 trillion,” Forbes reports. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who is representing Democrats, is standing firm with a $2.2 trillion proposal.
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In addition to the overall cost of the bill, the two sides have been unable to reach a consensus on whether and how to continue federal unemployment insurance supplements. The CARES Act’s $600-per-week payment on top of state benefits expired at the end of July, and a handful of states are just now starting to pay out a (temporary) small weekly stipend provided under Trump’s recent executive order.
Democrats want to continue the $600 weekly payment, while a number of other proposals would reduce benefits to $200-$300 per week (the amount provided by the executive order) and phase them out completely over the coming weeks and months.
Meadows and Pelosi talked by phone at the end of last week, but they remain at an impasse and have no clear plan to move forward with negotiations.
What about stimulus check 2?
Without an agreement on unemployment and overall spending, stimulus check 2 remains in limbo. It’s even possible that lawmakers and the Trump administration could come to a consensus that leaves out a second direct payment entirely.
Both the House and the Senate have floated the idea of “skinny” stimulus bills that address federal unemployment benefits and not much else. While existing packages—including the HEROES Act passed by the House and the HEALS Act pitched in the Senate—would include a $1,200 payment to those who were eligible under the CARES Act, the pared-down legislation does not provide stimulus check 2.
Lawmakers will return to Washington from their current recess after Labor Day, at which point they could move one or more of these proposals forward.
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