‘Skinny stimulus’: Senate to vote on $500 billion package. What it does and doesn’t include

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On Thursday, the Senate will vote on a GOP proposed $500 billion stimulus package.

This vote comes as Democrats and Republicans have struggled for weeks to come to terms on a bipartisan stimulus package. The two parties are still $900 billion apart: Democrats have come down to $2.2 trillion, and the White House has come up to $1.3 trillion.

This week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he’s opted to move forward with a scaled back stimulus package as a result of the inability of the two parties to come to an agreement on the broader bill. Already this Republican bill has fierce opposition from Democratic leaders, who say it won’t do enough to boost the economy or contain the virus.

What’s in the $500 billion stimulus package? It includes more than $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.

The Republican bill would also provide businesses and schools with immunity from COVID-19 lawsuits—something opposed by Democrats—and tax credits for parents to cover costs of home schooling and private K-12 school tuition.

The scaled back stimulus package does not include funding for a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks—a proposal that for months Republican and Democratic leaders supported. A second round of direct payments would cost around $290 million.

In addition, the Republican’s skinny stimulus does not provide additional funding for state and local governments. Democratic leaders have asked for more than $1 trillion for state and local governments, which they say is required to prevent looming public sector layoffs.

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