Republicans unveiled their proposals for the next coronavirus relief on the Senate floor Monday which includes cuts to the unemployment insurance bonus by about $400 and does not send more money to financially struggling state and local governments.
After a week of Republican infighting and disagreements with the White House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the Republican committee chairs each took turns outlining the proposals that will be a starting point for negotiations with Democrats.
McConnell called the Senate Republican’s approach “realistic” and said it would cost about $1 trillion, in sharp contrast to the package approved by House Democrats in May that costs at least $3 trillion.
But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the Republican proposals “halfhearted, half-baked” and “too little, too late.”
The two sides now will clash and negotiate over key items: the level of unemployment insurance payments, the lack of state and local funding, protection of employers against coronavirus-related lawsuits and funding for testing and contract tracing.
Senate Republicans also did not offer alternatives for many measures in the House Democrats’ bills, including funding for the U.S. Postal Service, elections, census, hazard pay for essential workers, homeless individuals and more.
But they added a few new proposals of their own.
Those include a new small business loan problem for seasonal or disadvantaged companies, $30 billion for the military industrial base and a process to determine how to make Social Security, Medicare and other trust funds solvent.
Here are some highlights that contrast the starting points for each side.
Economic stimulus payments
House: Second round of $1,200 cash to each family member up to $6,000 per family with earnings of $75,000 or less, expands to college students, non-child dependents and unauthorized noncitizens.
Senate: Second round of $1,200 cash to individuals and $2,400 to couples, and $500 for each dependent regardless of age, for families earning $75,000 or less.
Unemployment supplemental payments
House: Extends the $600-a-week bonus through Jan. 31, 2021, to help jobless workers and to stimulate consumer spending. Gives assistance and interest-free loans to help state unemployment offices.
Senate: Replaces 70% of lost wages to unemployed workers that, in effect, reduces the bonus to about $200. Boosts federal reimbursement to state unemployment offices to 75%, up from 50%.
State and local government funding
House: $985 billion for state and local governments, more flexibility in fund use, including covering revenue shortfalls.
Senate: No new money but more flexibility to use CARES Act funds, including using some of the money to cover revenue shortfalls.
Coronavirus testing and contact tracing
House: $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures.
Senate: $16 billion for state testing grants.
Workplace safety and legal liability
House: No liability immunity, but would requires OSHA to issue an emergency standard for workplace coronavirus safety, providing employers a defense against lawsuits.
Senate: Raises the bar for lawsuits for five years from December 2019 to December 2024 for employers in business, education and health care that make good faith efforts to follow health guidelines.
Funding for school, college re-openings
House: $107 billion, including $90 billion stabilization fund spit into $58 billion for K-12 schools, $27 billion for colleges and universities, and $4 billion for governors to distribute; $10 billion in funding for financially strapped colleges, and $7 billion for child care and tuition relief.
Senate: $105 billion stabilization fund, split into $70 billion for K-12 schools, $30 billion for colleges and universities, and $5 billion for governors to allocate. Two thirds of the money will go to schools where students are physically present.
House: Provides up to $10,000 debt relief for economically stressed borrowers of federal loans — wiping out debts for those who owe $10,000 or less — and allows students to consolidate their loans. Extends suspensions of loan payments until Sept. 30, 2021.
Senate: Extends the moratorium on making loan payments expiring Oct. 1 for students with no income, and allows students with income to pay no more than 10% of their income after deducting living expenses such as rent, mortgage or food.
Payroll protection program
House: Extends PPP coverage period to the end of the year, carves out a quarter of existing funds for small businesses with 10 or fewer employees, an additional set-aside of $10 billion for non-banking lenders, allows use of money for operational and supplier costs.
Senate: Allows small businesses with 300 or fewer employees that have a 50% decline in revenue to apply for a second loan. Approves business expenses to protect workers and customers such as masks, plexiglass or HVAC.
Other small business loans
House: Adds $10 billion for low-interest economic injury disaster loans for small businesses.
Senate: Proposes a new 20-year loan with a 1% interest rate for small businesses that are either seasonal employers or located in low-income communities and have fewer than 500 employees. The businesses could borrow up to twice their annual revenues.
Vaccine research and distribution
House: $3.5 billion for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to support the research and development of COVID-19 treatment and vaccines. Requires the Health and Human Services Department to expand and enhance manufacturing capacity of vaccines. Invokes the Defense Production Act to require manufacture of vaccines, tests, PPE.
Senate: $26 billion for research and distribution of coronavirus vaccines.
Rent and mortgage assistance
House: $100 billion for rental assistance, $75 billion for mortgage assistance, $2 billion for public housing for COVID-19 costs and $3 billion for rental shortfalls. Extends moratorium on evictions and mortgage foreclosures.
Senate: Not proposed Monday.
Trust fund supplements
House: Not in bill.
Senate: Create a bipartisan, bicameral process to determine how to ensure the Social Security, Medicare and other federal trust funds become solvent amid the nation’s $27 trillion debt and the effects of the pandemic on the economy.
Tax deductions for businesses
House: Not in bill.
Senate: Tax deductions for buying testing materials and services, personal protective equipment and cleaning. Increase business meal deduction to 100%, up from 50%, to increase business for restaurants.