Stimulus checks, package update: GOP floats new, slimmed-down bill

Republican lawmakers plan to release a pared-down version of their previously proposed $1 trillion stimulus package in hopes of uniting party members and bringing Democrats back to the table to pass more stimulus spending.

The plan, first reported by Politico, is similar to the HEALS Act, which Senate Republicans introduced in late July. It is expected to include $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits, liability protection for businesses, more money for the Paycheck Protection Program and an additional $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service.

The bill is also expected to include $105 billion for schools and funding for COVID-19 testing, Politico reported.

What is not expected to be seen in the bill is a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks, despite the fact that the three parties – the Democrats, the Republicans and the president – have all voiced support for it. The first stimulus checks went out in the spring to some 180 million Americans and included $1,200 for adults and $500 for dependent children.

Included in the proposed bill is money for the beleaguered U.S. Postal Service. However, there are no direct funds for the Postal Service in the bill but instead is a plan to forgive a $10 billion loan offered to the Postal Service in the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill (the CARES Act) that was passed in March.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has called House members back early from their summer recess to vote Saturday on a bill to provide $25 billion to the Postal Service, the amount that was requested by the Postal Service Board of Governors earlier this year.

Pelosi said the money is needed to ensure that voters can vote by mail in the November general election.

In addition to ignoring a second stimulus check, the draft legislation makes no mention of state and city aid. Democrats have said they would not consider a bill that does not include funds for state and local governments.

Whether the Senate will come back early from its recess to consider a bill is yet to be seen. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Tuesday that a bill focusing solely on the Postal Service “could open the opportunity for discussion about something smaller than what the speaker and the Democratic Senate leader were insisting on at the point of impasse.”