WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell outlined the GOP’s coronavirus aid plan, the HEALS Act, on Monday.
HEALS – which stands for Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools – would provide a second round of stimulus checks or debit cards to Americans.
McConnell said the direct payments would be the same as the first round, $1,200, with “even more support for families that care for vulnerable adult dependents.”
In the first round, people making $75,000 or less received the full amount while those making more than $75,000 received less, depending on their income. People who earn above $100,000 did not qualify for the payment.
An extra $500 stimulus check would be included for each dependent in the family.
“COVID-19 has killed nearly 150,000 Americans, it has caused mass layoffs on a historic scale and left 17 million out of work,” McConnell said Monday. “It has thrown the lives and the trajectories of our nation’s children and young adults into uncertainty.”
Sen. Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also announced a proposed change to the $600 weekly unemployment bonus, which would be replaced by 70% of the person’s prior wages.
“We have learned what we knew at the time, that when you pay people more not to work than they would get working, what do you expect?” Grassley said. “People will not work.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi panned the Trump administration’s desire to trim the $600 weekly unemployment aid to ensure no more than 70% of prepandemic wages. She also has resisted tackling a relief package in piecemeal fashion, arguing that broader aid is needed for Americans.
“Children are hungry, families cannot pay the rent, unemployment is expiring and the Republicans want to pause again and go piecemeal,” Pelosi said.
The HEALS Act will also include money for schools, increased testing and treatment as well as liability protections for employers, hospitals and schools.
“It will take bipartisan cooperation to make the HEALS Act into law for the American people,” McConnell said.
Democrats are still pushing for the Heroes Act they passed in May, which includes an extension of the $600-a-week unemployment bonus set to expire at the end of the month.
“We just want to make sure that this is a package that corresponds to the crisis,” Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin said.
Republicans say that’s just too expensive.
“We want to make sure with the expiring unemployment insurance we have the technical fix so people don’t get paid more to stay home than they do to work,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin explained.
Mnuchin says the current unemployment assistance must be fixed to get people back to work.
“This is all about kids and jobs,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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