The Lead: Republicans Release Their Stimulus Plan
The Republican Party has put up its second stimulus bill proposal. It is called the Health, Economic, Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools Act, or HEALS in short. It is not as simple as the acronym so let’s try to unpack.
The plan includes $1,200 in direct payments to individuals as well as more money for the Paycheck Protection Program. This equates to $200 per week, as opposed to the $600 per week that was the previous amount, and sets a limit of 60 days for these monies, or until the states can match up to 70% wage replacement.
Also in the bill are liability protections for businesses and schools so that they can avoid being sued by anyone who contracts COVID during their reopening. It also includes money for a new FBI headquarters as well as money for the agency to purchase personal protective equipment and boost the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to the tune of $2 billion.
WHY exactly is this in a COVID relief bill?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel shrugged this off when asked and said, “Obviously we had to have an agreement with the administration in order to get started.” So this was on the President’s wish list for some reason.
House Democrats are glad to have something to discuss but still expressed frustrations that this is not a complete bill, indicating that even Republicans are not in agreement about what is in it and don’t have the votes to pass it.
California meanwhile can wait no longer. The state says that if the federal government comes up empty-handed for COVID relief, they will find some money to do it themselves for state residents. Which has kind of been the order of things these days. Federal government scratches head, states fend for themselves, COVID rages on.