COVID-19

What House Democrats have proposed for a new COVID-19 stimulus bill

David Brancaccio, Scott Tong, and Alex Schroeder May 13, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Both sides have their demands, but will Republicans and Democrats be forced by necessity to find a middle ground? Graeme Jennings/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

What House Democrats have proposed for a new COVID-19 stimulus bill

David Brancaccio, Scott Tong, and Alex Schroeder May 13, 2020
Both sides have their demands, but will Republicans and Democrats be forced by necessity to find a middle ground? Graeme Jennings/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
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House Democrats have unveiled another stimulus bill that would double the amount of aid the federal government has already provided — to $6 trillion.

By most accounts this is an opening bid in a conversation on whether and how Washington should respond as some existing aid programs run out.

Marketplace’s Scott Tong has the details on the main components of this new stimulus.

“There’s a trillion dollars for state and local governments, which have been walloped because tax revenue hasn’t come in,” Tong told “Marketplace Morning Report Host” David Brancaccio. “The money would pay health workers, first responders, teachers at risk of losing their jobs.”

There’s also a second set of direct checks, on top of the initial $1,200 checks from this spring that were only meant to last one month, Tong said. The bill also extends extra benefits for the unemployed that are currently set to run out in July.

The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

David Brancaccio: Now, a vote on this is scheduled for Friday, but Republicans in control of the Senate say this is going precisely nowhere, right?

Scott Tong: The rare window of bipartisanship in crisis is surely less open.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calls this a “laundry list of pet priorities” on the left. But necessity could get the two sides talking. I spoke this morning with Mark Mazur at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. He thinks a next stimulus is “highly likely” because of how challenging things are.

Mark Mazur: I think if you look at the current economic situation, you’d be hard-pressed to say the U.S. is in a good place. I also think that if you look at the fiscal situation of state and local governments, it’s quite dire, and that it almost surely is the responsibility of the federal government to do something to help out.

Tong: Keep in mind the unemployment rate is now 1 in 7 Americans. That could become 1 in 5 before long.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Which businesses are allowed to reopen right now? And which businesses are actually doing so?

As a patchwork of states start to reopen, businesses that fall into a gray area are wondering when they can reopen. In many places, salons are still shuttered. Bars are mostly closed, too, although restaurants may be allowed to ramp up, depending on the state. “It’s kind of all over the place,” said Elizabeth Milito of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Will you be able to go on vacation this summer?

There’s no chance that this summer will be a normal season for vacations either in the U.S. or internationally. But that doesn’t mean a trip will be impossible. People will just have to be smart about it. That could mean vacations closer to home, especially with gas prices so low. Air travel will be possible this summer, even if it is a very different experience than usual.

When does the expanded COVID-19 unemployment insurance run out?

The CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March, authorized extra unemployment payments, increasing the amount of money, and broadening who qualifies. The increased unemployment benefits have an expiration date — an extra $600 per week the act authorized ends on July 31.

You can find answers to more questions here.

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