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Republicans announce details of HEALS Act stimulus effort

As Democrats revive Congressional hearings over the now debunked Russian collusion theory, Senate Republicans have finished a second stimulus plan to nurture the economic expansion.

The proposal aims to stimulate the economy as it continues to rebound from local and state-mandated shut-downs. One of the proposals is to reduce the additional unemployment payment of $600 that economists say has caused millions of unemployed to stay home rather than return to work.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced the GOP bill will be called the HEALS Act, which stands for health, economic, assistance, liability protection, and schools.

House leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) has agreed to discuss the proposal but Congressional attention today is on Democrat-led hearings with Attorney General William Barr. Barr has been summoned to again provide testimony previously heard before the Democrat impeachment proceedings. Barr will also discuss the Justice Department’s effort to battle Antifa anarchists in Portland and other cities.

The details of the plan, according to the Kentucky Republican’s remarks on the Senate floor, include $1,200 direct payments similar to the CARES Act, a sequel to the Payment Protection Program (PPP) to help small businesses, more funding for schools, and a liability shield for hospitals, businesses, and other entities. Treatment, testing, and vaccine funding will also be included.

The CARES Act was passed several months ago in a bid to offset economic losses suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic. Millions of people have lost their jobs and businesses were forced to shut down as governors implemented statewide stay-at-home orders to curb its spread.

Perhaps the most contentious issue is the expanded unemployment insurance. McConnell said there will be a federal unemployment insurance bonus but suggested it will be less than the $600 per week benefits that have been in effect since the CARES Act was signed into law in March. The $600 was in addition to state unemployment benefits. Democrats had sought to push the extra $2800 monthly payment to January 2021.

“Just like in March, with the CARES Act, Senate Republicans have authored another bold framework to help our nation … Health, Economic Assistance, Liability, and Schools. Another historic package for the next phase of this historic national fight,” McConnell said on the floor.

Unconfirmed reports over the weekend indicated that Republicans would cut the unemployment benefits to $200 per week, while Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin previously said it would set the enhanced insurance at 70 percent of a worker’s previous wages.

GOP leaders previously said they wanted their proposal to serve as a starting point in discussions with Democrats that could pass both the House and the Senate.

Even before seeing the full proposal, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was quick to label McConnell’s proposal as “unworkable.”“

Schumer warned that if the unemployment measures are not extended, “we could go into a depression.”

The GOP plan will not include a bailout for state and local governments that have been impacted during the pandemic. That provision is a central pillar of the $3 trillion HEROES Act. Under the Democrat plan, most trillion dollar bailout would go to the Democrat-cotrolled states of New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Massachusetts, and California.

In his speech, McConnell described the Democrat scheme as a “socialist manifesto.”

–EPTimes and wire services