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COVID-19

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

David Brancaccio, Scott Tong, and Alex Schroeder May 13, 2020
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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
Heard on:
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

What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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