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Democrats' $2.4 trillion proposal to offer stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment

In an effort to restart talks about another stimulus bill for the American people, House Democrats are drafting legislation that could be voted on next week.

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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 18, 2020.
Al Drago | Reuters

Democrats in the House of Representatives are preparing a $2.4 trillion coronavirus relief package, which could be voted on as early as next week.

Talks about another stimulus package have stalled over the past few months, with Democrats and Republicans unable to come to an agreement about how much a new bill should cost and what it should cover.

The Democrats' new bill would include enhanced unemployment insurance; direct payments to Americans like the one-time, up-to-$1,200 per person checks sent out in the spring; small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP); and other provisions.

Costwise, it comes in under the bill House Democrats passed in May, the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which included provisions like hazard pay for essential workers as well as mortgage and utility assistance, and which was never considered by the Senate.

It is as yet unclear whether this latest effort at a stimulus bill will succeed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated that he will prioritize filling the Supreme Court seat vacated by the recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

That said, earlier this month, the president tweeted out his support for another stimulus bill and told Republicans to aim for "much higher numbers."

Another attempt at relief funding for Americans

The $600 per week in enhanced unemployment benefits provided by the CARES Act expired in July, as did the national moratorium on evictions. The window to apply for PPP funding closed in August.

In August, the president signed an executive order temporarily extending enhanced unemployment benefits amounting to an extra $300 a week, but that assistance is now expiring in many states

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What happens after enhanced unemployment benefits run out?

Video by Stephen Parkhurst

Both parties have proposed more economic relief for Americans. In July, Senate Republicans put forward the HEALS Act, a $1 trillion bill which would have extended a reduced amount of enhanced unemployment benefits, provided direct relief in the form of $1,200 checks, provided more PPP funding, and featured liability insurance for businesses. Senate Republicans also tried and failed to pass another $300 billion "skinny" stimulus bill in September. 

As many as 12.5 million Americans are currently receiving unemployment benefits, and this week, jobless claims came in at a worse-than-expected 870,000.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell urged Congress to provide Americans with more financial support on Wednesday. "Many borrowers will benefit from these programs, as will the overall economy," Powell said. 

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