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Democrats Propose $2.2 Trillion Stimulus Bill, With New PPP Aid Targeted at Restaurants and Theaters

  • Following indications that they would be willing to reduce the price tag of the HEROES Act passed in May, Democrats update the bill to put before the House
  • $2.2 trillion would include stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment benefits, funding for state and local governments, and an improved PPP program with targeted relief to restaurants and theaters
  • A vote on the measure may come later this week, but it is unclear if it will pass muster with Republicans

After Republicans denounced the proposed $3.4 trillion HEROES Act passed by House Democrats in May as too exorbitant, Democratic leaders indicated that they would be willing to drop the price tag closer to $2 trillion. Now, after months of stalemate on new COVID-19 relief, House Democrats have codified this proposal by introducing an updated version of the HEROES Act that they say retains the scope of the original legislation but cuts costs by reducing its timeframe.

The $2.2 trillion proposal includes another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, while also expanding the eligibility of who may receive them; enhanced $600 a week unemployment benefits through January; $436 billion in aid for local, state, territorial, and tribal governments; and funding for a variety of purposes, including schools, child care, the United States Postal Service, elections, and health services like testing and contact tracing.

The proposal also looks to improve the Paycheck Protection Program by authorizing funding for second loans. It specifically seeks to provide targeted assistance for hard-hit small businesses, including funds for independent live venue operators and $120 billion for restaurants. Separately, $25 billion would go to bolster airlines.

Several competing COVID-19 measures have come before Congress, with Democrats and Republicans unable to find a compromise on the cost and scope of a new relief package. The House may vote on the updated HEROES Act this week, though it is unlikely to pass the Senate without further negotiations. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has indicated that Republicans are looking to cap any new relief measure at $1.5 trillion.

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