‘Very, very far apart’: Pelosi and Mnuchin fail to reach a deal on bill including stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment

September 30, 2020, 8:44 PM UTC

Stimulus negotiations between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fell apart on Wednesday.

“We’re very, very far apart,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said after the meeting.

The White House went into the meeting with plans to up its stimulus offer from $1.3 trillion to $1.5 trillion—and include provisions that would allow the package to rise to $2 trillion if the pandemic persists beyond a certain point. Republicans acknowledged prior to the meeting that this was likely the last chance to get something done before the election.

It’s unclear if Pelosi lowered Democrats’ offer of $2.2 trillion.

And without a compromise stimulus deal, Democratic leaders said they’ll have a vote on a revised $2.2 trillion Heroes Act stimulus bill as soon as Wednesday evening. Back in May the first version of the Heroes Act, priced at $3 trillion, passed in the House. But it never got a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The updated version of the Heroes Act contains $1,200 stimulus checks, $436 billion for aid to state and local governments, small-business aid, money for schools, as well as more aid for airlines. And it goes well beyond that, as Fortune has written, including everything from funding for the Post Office to Amtrak to money to help close the “homework gap” for kids without Internet access. A full list can be found here.

The House bill makes several tweaks to the direct payments or stimulus checks. Each individual would get $1,200, but dependents would qualify for $500 each (under the House’s original plan, dependents would have also gotten $1,200). However, there are a few important differences this time around. First, the bill specifies that dependents include full-time students under the age of 24 and adult dependents. Second, in order to receive a stimulus check one would only need a Taxpayer Identification Number, not a Social Security Number. And finally unlike the CARES Act payments, these would be exempt from levy or garnishment owing to past due child support. The payments would be determined based on 2018 or 2019 tax returns, the bill states. 

The plan would also extend $600 supplemental unemployment benefits through January. Those originally expired during the summer and were replaced by $300 weekly benefits that Trump specified through an executive order. Those also were set to expire this month.

This $2.2 trillion Heroes Act is unlikely to get signed into law. However, it does give Democratic representatives a talking point as they go home during the October recess to campaign. On the flip side, vulnerable Senate Republicans will go home without having passed another stimulus bill since the spring.

The inability to get another compromise stimulus package signed into law spells bad news for the more than 25 million Americans still receiving unemployment benefits. The $600 enhanced weekly unemployment benefit, which expired in July, was replaced by a $300 enhanced weekly payment that President Donald Trump issued through a memorandum in August. But funding for the $300 payment is set to run out this week, and its extension or replacement was tied to Congress passing another stimulus bill.

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