Stimulus check update: Latest plan splits package in two; unemployment help included, check is not

A bipartisan group of lawmakers say they have hammered out a compromise stimulus bill to help Americans as they struggle through economic hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The plan, which takes a bill first proposed a few weeks ago and splits it into two, calls for nearly $750 billion to fund federal unemployment benefits, the Paycheck Protection Program and vaccine distribution, among other programs.

The second bill will cost $160 billion and is earmarked for COVID-19 liability insurance and money to foundering cities and states.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said “we look forward to reviewing” what the bipartisan group is putting forth.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, urged both sides to come together to get a bill passed.

“It’s time for this body to collectively recognize that finger-pointing doesn’t put food on the table for struggling families,” McConnell said.

Congress faces a Friday deadline for a COVID-19 relief bill, as the money used to run the government will run out Saturday.

In addition to working on a COVID-19 stimulus bill, legislators are also working on the annual government spending bill.

A deal on a bill that will fund the government through Sept. 30, 2021, is nearly complete, according to The Associated Press.

Not included in either of the two COVID-19 relief bills is a plan to send Americans $1,200 stimulus checks.

Members of both parties are saying aid programs such as federal unemployment benefits and help for businesses should be on the front burner.

However, some in Congress are calling for a second round of stimulus checks, saying “working people are struggling.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, warned fellow senators that he would not be voting for a relief bill that did not include a $1,200 check for most American adults.

“Congress cannot go home for the Christmas holidays until we pass legislation which provides a $1,200 direct payment to working class adults, $2,400 for couples, and a $500 payment to their children,” Sanders said in a statement. “This is what Democrats and Republicans did unanimously in March through the CARES Act. This is what we have to do today.”

Sanders and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., introduced a bill last week that would attach an amendment for a second $1,200 check to any government spending bill that needs to pass by Dec. 18 in order to avoid a government shutdown.

“It would be a dereliction of duty if Congress adjourns for Christmas without having a vote on providing working families with direct payments,” Hawley said in a statement. “Working people are struggling. And they should be the first people given relief, not last.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, spoke on Sunday and Monday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about another stimulus bill, according to an aide.

President Donald Trump is also calling for a stimulus check to be sent to American families as soon as possible, and is chastising Democrats for not getting a bill passed.

“Right now, I want to see checks — for more money than they’re talking about — going to people,” Trump said during an interview with Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade that aired on Sunday. “I’m pushing it very hard, and to be honest with you, if the Democrats really wanted to do the deal, they’d do the deal.”

According to The Washington Post, Trump has said privately that he would support sending a check for up to $2,000 to millions of Americans.

In April, the CARES Act provided for some 180 million American adults to receive a $1,200 check, plus $500 for dependents.

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