December 15th, 2015

Republicans and Democrats are clashing over another stimulus package. Here are 7 areas of disagreement holding up $1,200 checks and coronavirus relief.

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Negotiations over another coronavirus relief package between the White House and Democrats continue to crawl along with few signs of a breakthrough.

While both sides agree on another round of $1,200 stimulus checks for taxpayers, as well as assistance to small businesses and airlines, they're clashing on numerous other measures. It reduces the prospects for the passage of a stimulus package before the election.

The dynamics around a deal are complicated with the opposition of many Senate Republicans to further relief spending as President Donald Trump calls for a large economic rescue package. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested on Thursday he wouldn't put a brokered deal up for a floor vote.

Here's a breakdown of seven policy disagreements that are holding up another stimulus package.


Democrats are insisting on at least $2.2 trillion in additional spending to prop up individuals, businesses, and public health agencies. The House approved an economic aid package earlier this month, a slimmed-down version of the $3.4 trillion "Heroes Act" from May. The latest legislation would send more stimulus checks among other provisions.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has made a $1.8 trillion offer to Democrats in ongoing negotiations. The White House has increased the amount it's willing to spend in recent weeks. But it faces significant opposition from Senate Republicans reluctant to support a price tag of that size, complicating the odds of bipartisan deal materializing into law.

Read more: A $2.5 billion investment chief highlights the stock-market sectors poised to benefit the most if stimulus is passed after the election — and says Trump ending negotiations doesn't threaten the economic recovery

Federal unemployment benefits

While both parties agree the government should supplement state unemployment checks, they're quarreling over the amount.

Democrats have not moved away from calling for the restoration of the $600 federal weekly unemployment benefit through January 2021. They argue unemployment remains high with an economy displaying renewed signs of weakness such as slowing job growth.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration put forward a $400 weekly federal supplement as part of its offer. Some Republicans are critical, saying it would disincentivize work and set back the economic recovery.

Coronavirus testing

Over the past few weeks, Pelosi and other Democrats cited the lack of a national testing and tracing strategy as a key reason they rejected the administration's offer.

Meanwhile, Mnuchin has said the differences on testing is "overblown" and the administration would accept the Democratic position with few changes. Upon reviewing the new legislative language, Democrats dismissed it as insufficient and recently called for bigger changes.

Tax credits for low-income Americans

As part of their federal rescue package, Democrats are seeking to widen tax credits for low-income individuals and families such as the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit. The expanded CTC would provide a modest monthly payment to people with smaller incomes or those who don't earn enough to file taxes.

The Trump administration's newest plan doesn't include funding to expand either, which Democrats argue is necessary to aid struggling families and unemployed people.

Aid to states

Democrats want to include at least $436 billion in aid to states weathering significant shortfalls in their budgets. Reduced tax revenues have caused 1.2 million public employees to lose their jobs.

Republicans deride it as a "blue state bailout," saying it would provide funds for states to shore up pensions and use the money toward measures unrelated to the pandemic. However, some Republican governors have also called for federal aid.


The newest economic aid package from Democrats includes $57 billion to bolster childcare providers. Advocates say many are grappling with the loss of revenue and increased operating expenses, which is forcing many providers to close down.

The administration's plan does include an unspecified amount of funding for childcare. But Pelosi told ABC News on Sunday it's less than what is needed and Democrats continue pressing for more.

Liability protections for businesses

Republicans are seeking a liability shield for businesses to protect them from coronavirus-related lawsuits from both workers and customers in the "Safe to Work Act." They say a wave of lawsuits could deter employers from reopening their workplaces and harm the economy.

Democrats lambasted this step as an unacceptable measure, with Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York calling it "a poison pill" last month. They're pressing to strengthen workplace protections and safety standards instead through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a federal regulatory agency.

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