New stimulus bill showdown? $1K checks and everything else in the $600B GOP proposal


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The Biden administration plant to hit the ground running on COVID-19 relief and economic recovery.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Sunday morning, a group of 10 Senate Republicans sent President Joe Biden a letter (PDF), presenting a $600 billion COVID-19 relief counterproposal that “reflects many of your stated priorities,” the group wrote. “And with your support, we believe that this plan could be approved quickly by Congress with bipartisan support.” The proposal from the moderate Republicans is a response to the $1.9 trillion economic rescue plan the Biden administration introduced Jan. 15, which would include a third round of stimulus checks and funding for a nationwide COVID-19 vaccine. But Biden can’t pass the bill into law himself — he needs the new Congress to agree on a stimulus package.

“We would love to work with him,” Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, one of the 10 Republicans, said on CNN State of the Union on Sunday. “If you can’t find bipartisanship on COVID-19, I don’t know where you can find it.”

The Republicans’ targeted proposal is roughly 32% the size of Biden’s American Rescue Plan, and it would include a $1,000 stimulus check that reworks the stimulus payment formula in key ways. Biden, however, would send a third stimulus check of up to $1,400 per person that would open up further open up payment qualifications. However, Biden said he’s “open to negotiate those things,” including the $1,400 stimulus check figure. Here’s what we know about the Republican plan compares to Biden’s proposal.

What are the 10 Senate Republicans proposing?

The new stimulus plan — which the group calls a “framework” — from the 10 moderate Republican senators would set out $600 billion for economic and vaccine assistance, roughly a third of the $1.9 trillion Biden would spend on his plan.

To meet that budget goal, the Republican plan would send $1,000 checks to individuals and families, capping income qualifications at $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for a family, Portman said on Sunday. For the first two checks, individual payments started at $1,400 and phased out above $75,000. For families, payments phased out above $150,000.

While the Republican framework would mirror Biden’s dollar figure for COVID-19 vaccine research and distribution ($160 billion), it would reduce the amount of money going to schools and look at shortening the length of time unemployed workers could received federal unemployment assistance.

A $1,400 third stimulus payment, which could go lower

As part of his plan, Biden has proposed a $1,400 stimulus check. The $1,400 figure, when added to the $600 checks Congress approved at the end of 2020, would amount to the $2,000 amount some in Washington are pushing for.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, has said $1,400 isn’t enough. “$2,000 means $2,000. $2,000 does not mean $1,400,″ she told the Washington Post Jan. 14, referring to Biden’s previous backing of a “$2,000” check.

Unlike the two preceding payments, this third round would seek to include eligible adult dependents and families with mix-status citizenship. Here are all the ways a third check could bring more money, and here’s how the stimulus check could become more “targeted” to go out to fewer people overall while still keeping the maximum limit higher than December’s $600 threshold.

The House plans to start work on Biden’s proposal when it returns to work this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Jan. 21. While some in Washington are pushing for Congress and the White House to split Biden’s plan to smaller bills, The White House last week rejected the idea of dividing Biden’s plan into focused packages. “We’re not going to negotiate out” individual pieces of Biden’s proposal, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing Jan. 28.

$400 extra in additional federal unemployment benefits

The weekly $300 federal unemployment checks Congress approved in December as part of the $900 billion COVID-relief legislation are set to expire in March. During his presidential campaign, Biden pushed to reform the unemployment system and said he would work with Congress to extend the unemployment benefits that had been authorized under last year’s CARES Act and renewed in December, “for however long this crisis lasts.”

Biden’s plan would send $400 federal unemployment payments through September with triggers that would extend the benefits after September for those who continue to be out of work and include automatic payment adjustments linked to health and economic conditions. The new Republican proposal would look at shortening the length of time.

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Democrats will push to extend and increase federal unemployment aid back to $600 extra per week.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Nationwide coronavirus vaccine delivery

While over 30 million doses have so far been distributed in the US, that is far behind the 100 million doses Trump promised to distribute by the end of 2020. Biden has set a goal of 100 million vaccine jabs in the first 100 days of his administration.

Biden’s plan will set aside $160 billion for a nationwide vaccine program (a different plan asks for $400 billion). “I will immediately move for the most urgent need of asking the Congress to give me the financial wherewithal to deal with the virus,” Biden said Jan. 8. “I’m committed to getting 100 million shots in people’s arms in the first 100 days.”

Child tax credit expansion to bring people more money

In his plan, Biden proposes expanding the child tax credit that currently allows families to claim up to a $2,000 credit for children under age 17. If approved, the plan would extend the benefit to lower-income families who would otherwise not receive the credit. Under Biden’s plan, families could claim up to $3,600 per year for one young child and up to $3,000 per year for an older child.

The plan would also expand child care tax credits for one year to help cover the cost of child care. Under Biden’s plan, families could get back as a tax credit as much as half of their spending on child care for children under age 13, up to to $4,000 for a single child and $8,000 for two or more children.

The $600 billion GOP proposal does not appear to address this.

Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour for employees

Biden’s overall agenda will push for a rise in the minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour. “It is time to raise the minimum wage,” Biden said Jan. 8. “No one, no one should work as millions are doing today, 40 hours a week at a job, and still live below the poverty line. They are entitled to at least $15 minimum wage per hour.”

On Jan. 24, Biden signed an executive order directing the Office of Personnel Management to create recommendations for a minimum wage increase to $15 per hour.

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Biden has asked Congress to forgive student debt up to $10,000.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Funds to reopen schools during COVID-19

A critical piece of the economic recovery is getting students back on campus. “We are also going to need tens of millions of dollars to help reopen our schools and open them safely,” Biden said on Jan. 8. The Biden plan would work to return students to schools by having a majority of kindergarten-to-8th grade classrooms safely reopen in the first 100 days of the administration. The Republican plan would reduce school funding.

Funds earmarked for state, local and tribal governments

Along with expanding liability protections pushed by Republicans, Democratic support of funding for state, local and tribal governments was a major roadblock to reaching an agreement on a new economic assistance package through the second half of last year. With Democrats soon to be in control of the House, Senate and White House, Biden has pledged support for state and local funding as part of his administration’s relief package. 

Since the fall, economists have pushed for Congress to provide funding for state and local public jobs: “The case for additional aid is strong because the downside risk of doing nothing is quite real,” wrote the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, at the end of last year. “The fact that over 1 million state and local government workers have lost their jobs is a sign that fiscal distress has had real consequences.”

On Jan. 8, Biden again expressed concern that state and local governments are “slashing jobs” as a result of the pandemic and pledged to provide “immediate relief.” In addition to state and local funding, Biden’s plan would provide funds for food and water assistance and food stamps.

The $600 billion Republican plan said it supports “fully funding [Biden’s] request for nutrition assistance to help struggling families.”

Extending the eviction ban through September

On Jan. 20, Biden signed an executive order extending the eviction ban through March, which means it may not be part of the final new stimulus bill at all. Biden’s proposal would extend the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums until Sept. 30. The plan would provide $30 billion in rental assistance for renters and small landlords, especially for low- and moderate-income households. The GOP proposal does not appear to address this.

Is student loan forgiveness included?

On Jan. 8, Biden administration officials said the incoming president would ask Congress to cancel $10,000 in student debt for all borrowers and extend the pause on student loan repayment, CNBC reported. Neither stimulus plan appears to tackle student loan forgiveness.

We’ll continue to update this story as Biden reveals more details on his plans. For more information about stimulus money, here are top facts you need to know about stimulus checks, and here’s what you need to know about the federal unemployment assistance.



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