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I can’t believe this is seriously being considered for the next stimulus bill

Published Aug 19th, 2020 1:38PM EDT
Stimulus check update
Image: Jason Raff/Adobe
  • The latest coronavirus stimulus check update we have is a bit of a head-scratcher — despite how popular this benefit is, and how badly needed it is, Senate GOP leaders are rumored to be considering an exclusion of this benefit from a tweaked HEALS Act.
  • The latter is the stimulus bill that’s been stalled in the Senate as a result of talks breaking down a few weeks ago between the two parties.
  • Benefits that are rumored to be included in a new attempt at passing the bill include expanded unemployment assurance and funding for the US Postal Service.

Senate Republican leaders are expected to try again and take another swing in a matter of days at crafting a stimulus bill that’s palatable to both the GOP as well as Democratic leaders, picking up where they left off when talks over the HEALS Act hit an impasse a few weeks ago. But even though direct payments to Americans are one of if not the most popular benefit that could potentially find a spot in the new stimulus bill, the latest stimulus check update we have is that, unfortunately, Senate Republicans are actually weighing whether to exclude funding for those checks in the final text of the legislation.

The idea is to produce a so-called “skinny” version of the previously introduced HEALS Act that gets the price tag below $1 trillion, based on reported conversations such as a conference call in recent days between Senators and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, along with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Politico first reported on this stripped-down proposal and the possibility it would be introduced on Tuesday minus funding for new stimulus checks. Obviously, that date came and went, so the assumption is that this will be released between now and week’s end, or possibly a little later. And among the benefits expected to comprise this stripped-down stimulus proposal — again, which would exclude stimulus checks, something millions of Americans could use as a result of the financial pain associated with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic:

Unemployment benefits. Per reporting by Forbes, GOP aides have hinted that this new plan would raise the weekly enhanced unemployment benefits to $300 from the initial $200 proposed in the HEALS Act. This benefit, remember, was a major reason negotiations over the stimulus bill broke down a few weeks ago, since Republicans dug in their heels and refused to re-up the expiring $600/week enhanced unemployment benefits, to the ire of Democrats.

Post Office funding. This “skinny” bill is also rumored to include $10 billion for the US Postal Service. However, that’s less than the $25 billion requested by the USPS board of governors several months ago to offset expenses related to the pandemic.

Small business aid. Notably, the pared-down HEALS Act proposal is expected to additionally include money to provide more aid to small businesses via the Paycheck Protection Program, along with funding for health and education. Senate GOP leaders also apparently want to add some sort of liability protection for businesses, to provide them with more of a shield against coronavirus-related litigation.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.