GOP aid package blocked by Senate Democrats—here’s what it means for unemployment benefits and stimulus checks

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On Thursday, the Republican-proposed $500 billion stimulus package failed to get enough votes to advance in the chamber.

The stimulus package received 52 votes in favor, all from Republicans, and 47 opposed votes from Democratic Senators and Kentucky Republican Rand Paul. The bill needed 60 votes in favor to move forward.

The $500 billion package—which is scaled back from previous proposals—would have provided $250 billion for another round of Paycheck Protection Program loans, just under $50 billion for COVID-19 testing and vaccine development, over $100 billion for schools, and it forgives a $10 billion loan to the United States Postal Service. Additionally, it would secure $300 weekly enhanced unemployment benefits through the week ending December 27.

But Democratic leaders blocked that aid, saying it won’t do enough boost the economy or contain the virus.

The Republican’s “skinny” stimulus package did not include funding for a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks—a proposal that for months Republican and Democratic leaders supported. And it didn’t provided additional funding for state and local governments. Democratic leaders are still asking for $1 trillion for state and local governments in order to stave off mass public sector layoffs.

And this failed vote comes as funding for the $300 enhanced unemployment benefits, which are paid top of regular unemployment benefits, are set to run out this month. On Wednesday, Texas became the first state to announce it had depleted the funding and will discontinue payments.

So where does a stimulus package go from here? The consensus on Capitol Hill is nothing will get signed before the end of September—when U.S. lawmakers are required to approve more federal funding to stave off a government shutdown.

If Democrats and Republicans do come to an agreement before the election, it’s likely it would be more broad package than the $500 billion package voted down on Thursday. And it would likely include stimulus checks, unlike the Republican “skinny” bill.

When Republican and Democratic leaders last discussed a broad stimulus bill in August, the two parties were $900 billion apart: Democrats at $2.2 trillion, and the White House at $1.3 trillion. Both of those deals would have included stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment benefits.

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