Mitch McConnell unveils HEALS Act with $1,200 stimulus checks
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday unveiled the Republican HEALS act to address the coronavirus pandemic — including another round of $1,200 stimulus checks.
McConnell said the bill, expected to cost about $1 trillion, gives a liability shield to businesses and funds to schools. It caps at 70 percent of pre-pandemic pay a federal unemployment insurance supplement that lapsed last week.
HEALS is an acronym for health, economic assistance, liability and schools, McConnell said. He dismissed a rival Democratic proposal as a “multi-trillion-dollar socialist manifesto.”
The stimulus checks will this time include extra cash for people with adult dependents, McConnell said. Bill text released by the Senate Finance Committee indicates every dependent — adult or child — qualifies for a $500 payment.
The legislation keeps a formula approved by Congress in March for means-testing stimulus checks.
Adults earning up to $75,000 get the full $1,200, but adults earning more would get smaller amounts. People who earn over $99,000 again would go empty-handed.
People with no income and those who receive Social Security are eligible for the full amount.
Although the GOP plan calls the unemployment supplement to be reduced, McConnell said it was “eight times what Democrats put in place when they controlled the White House and Congress during the Great Recession.”
Under the CARES Act passed in March, unemployed people got a $600 per week federal boost. States pay different unemployment rates, meaning that in some places jobless workers got more money not working, which Republicans said disincentivized work.
The new bill would give states a supplement of $200 per unemployed person unless they submit a plan showing how they would cap benefits at 70 percent of pre-pandemic pay.
The precise details of the Republican package were hammered out during more than a week of talks between Republican Senate leaders and the White House. Now, talks will begin with Democrats, who in the House passed a rival $3 trillion bill in May.
McConnell defended protecting businesses from liability, which many Democrats oppose. He said businesses could still be sued in cases of gross negligence or misconduct.
The bill includes a more than $100 billion allocation for schools to use to safely reopen in the fall and a $2 billion emergency fund for states to support needy people, including through cash assistance via food-stamps programs.
The rival Democratic proposal proposed almost $1 trillion in bailouts for state and local governments, which Republicans largely oppose, and mortgage and rent assistance.
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