Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., detailed Monday afternoon Republicans’ new stimulus plan — being dubbed the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools, or HEALS, Act.
“Just like in March with the CARES Act, Senate Republicans have authored another bold framework to help our nation,” McConnell said. “Now we need our Democratic colleagues to reprise their part as well. They need to put aside their partisan stonewalling we saw in police reform, rediscover the spirit of urgency that got the CARES act across the finish line and quickly join us around the negotiating table.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor just after McConnell spoke, however, that Democrats had yet to see a “coherent” bill.
“They can’t even put one bill together they are so divided,” Schumer said.
Schumer also said that “Not only do we not know if the president supports any of these proposals, we don’t even know if Senate Republicans fully support them.”
Further comments by Schumer signaled that tough negotiations are likely ahead.
“Here’s what we should do: Republicans should scrap their approach … and they should use the [Democrats'] HEROES Act — comprehensive, strong and bold — for negotiations, and they should start talking with Democrats in a serious way about the real problems our nation is facing,” Schumer said.
The GOP’s Heals framework contains four parts:
- The Safely Back to School and Back to Work Act;
- offering Paycheck Protection Program Second Draw Loans via the Continuing Small Business Recovery and Paycheck Protection Program Act;
- the Restoring Critical Supply Chains and Intellectual Property Act, intended to boost domestic production of personal protective equipment and “ensure American leadership in advanced research and development and semiconductor manufacturing”; and
- the Safeguarding America’s Frontline Employees To Offer Work Opportunities Required to Kickstart the Economy, or Safe to Work, Act, intended to discourage “insubstantial lawsuits related to COVID-19.”
The package will provide more than $100 billion to help schools and universities open, McConnell said.
Because the nation “has one foot in the pandemic and one in the recovery,” another round of $1,200 direct stimulus checks will be issued, McConnell continued, “with even more for those who care for vulnerable adult dependents.”
The proposal includes cutting supplemental unemployment benefits, now $600 a week, to $200 a week through September, when the payment will be combined with state benefits to replace 70% of wages.
“It will take bipartisan cooperation to make the HEALs Act into law for the American people,” McConnell said. “The Senate will not waste time with pointless partisanship.”
Schumer stated, however, that “We Democrats have been waiting to negotiate with our Republican colleagues for two months … We need to immediately enter bipartisan, bicameral negotiations to develop a bill that actually matches the scale of the crisis and the needs of the American people.”
Enhanced unemployment benefits expire this week, Schumer said, “without a proper solution. No matter what we do, states will not be able to quickly restart any enhanced unemployment benefits because Senate republicans dithered for what seems like an eternity.”