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Stimulus package debate: The key pieces of a bill that’s causing drama in Washington – CNET

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Talks could yet resume for a second stimulus check — here’s the latest status update.

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The drama over a new coronavirus relief package and all it could contain grows more heated by the day, as both sides remain resolute over the total price of their proposals. It isn’t enough that Republicans and Democrats want to make a deal. The cost of the package is the main sticking point that’s ground negotiations to a halt — and it has a direct impact on which pieces of funding move forward and how effective they might be.

For example, a larger overall package can fund more stimulus programs, including a second stimulus check. A smaller one could drop some funding, or narrow the scope of what the program in question could achieve. 

$2 trillion proposal released last week from the House Problem Solvers Caucus pulls ideas from previous stimulus proposals to create a framework for renewed negotiations. The pressure to make a deal is mounting, and so are calls for compromise. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that the House of Representatives will stay in session until lawmakers strike a deal

Read on to learn the proposed benefits a new stimulus package could contain if it becomes law before or after the Nov. 3 election. For more information, read up on the six top things to know about stimulus checks. We update this story regularly.

As much as $1,200 apiece in a second stimulus check

The fate of a second stimulus payment is currently tied up with package negotiations, although it’s also been suggested that President Donald Trump could sign an executive action to funnel more aid into the economy, potentially including another direct payment. 

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Money for schools to battle the coronavirus on campus

Funding to pay for hygiene protocols, testing and other accommodations during the coronavirus pandemic are top priorities on both sides of the aisle to help mitigate the virus’ spread among students and faculty. 

As some schools opened through August, data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association shows a 16% increase in cases among children, from Aug. 20 to Sept. 3.

Enhanced unemployment pay for millions of job seekers

A stop-gap measure for the federal government to fund $300 a week in enhanced unemployment pay only lasts six weeks and is already ending in some states.

A major point of contention in the debate, Democrats want a new bill to provide $600 per week on top of states’ benefit just like the CARES Act did in March. Republicans want to slim the figure to $300. The Problem Solvers proposal puts the figure at $450 for eight weeks, with an increase afterward.

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Enhanced hygiene, testing and modifications to school cost time and money, two things many facilities lack.

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Payroll Protection Program to assist small businesses

Intended to help you retain your job, the Paycheck Protection Program provides forgivable loans to small businesses as an incentive to keep employees on the payroll — people who might have otherwise have lost their jobs during the pandemic. 

Employee tax credits to help businesses retain staff

A program administered by the IRS already exists designed to give employers a tax break for keeping employees on the payroll, through the end of 2020. A new bill could extend or enhance the program into 2021. 

Extended eviction ban and potential rental assistance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used an obscure health law to suspend evictions through Dec. 13, as long as renters complete the necessary paperwork. 

Without eviction protections, it’s been estimated that up to 40 million people across 17 million households could lose their homes if the economy doesn’t recover before the latest protections lapse.

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With mail-in ballots expected to rise this election year, the USPS will feel greater strain, with fewer resources.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Protection for businesses from some coronavirus lawsuits

Liability protection is high on the agenda for Republican lawmakers. Introduced in the Republicans’ HEALS Act proposal, the measure would place a limit on lawsuits levied against employers, schools and health care providers in relation to coronavirus exposure, with exceptions made for gross negligence.

Funding to help the USPS cope with election season

Both Democrats and Republicans have advanced bills with an eye to help fund a US Postal Service in crisis ahead of an election in which up to 80 million people are expected to vote by mail

The House of Representatives’ bill passed but hasn’t been picked up by the Senate. The Senate’s “skinny” bill didn’t clear its chamber

With the stimulus bill still undecided, follow along for the most up-to-date news on where negotiations stand. You can also brush up on the ins and outs of Trump’s payroll tax deferral and learn how the definition of dependents could change in a second stimulus check.

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