The emerging deal being hammered out by Senate negotiators would provide one round of $1,000 checks to eligible adults at a cost of approximately $250 billion and match that with a similarly costly expansion of unemployment benefits — in the ballpark of $250 billion, according to two sources familiar with the talks.
As a result, the entire cost of the stimulus package is expected to swell well above the $1 trillion proposed by Trump, possibly to more than $1.2 trillion. The projected cost of the package is not yet certain as negotiators are waiting for a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), said a person familiar with the talks.
The total cost of expanding unemployment benefits remains uncertain until the CBO issues a budgetary projection, negotiators said.
The partisan disagreement over whether to provide direct economic assistance in the form of rebate checks or unemployment insurance was a major sticking point heading into the talks.
But Wyden warned that negotiators need to vet the emerging deal with members of their respective conferences.
“Both sides now have issues that they have to go back and check with [their colleagues,]” Wyden said.
White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland said negotiators “are much closer at the end of today than we were when we started this morning.”
Ueland said negotiators “made tremendous progress today on unemployment insurance.”
He also said that the Democratic proposal to significantly ramp up unemployment insurance benefits requires “some technical work that needs to be done overnight,” and added that the CBO “needs to give us some answers on dollars and cents.”
As the disagreement over direct rebate checks and expanded unemployment benefits nears resolution, another major sticking point has emerged on the question of providing financial assistance to the states.
They said the money would be needed to “account for the devastating impact of COVID-19 on our four state budgets.”
“We do not have the luxury of waiting for federal reimbursement — we need a cash infusion now,” they wrote.
A Republican source said the Democratic request for state aid was well in excess of the $100 billion requested by those four states and had created an impasse in the talks.
The Democratic request for a massive infusion of financial aid to states caught GOP lawmakers somewhat by surprise; they had fully anticipated giving ground to Democrats on boosting unemployment benefits, which was a key piece of a $750 billion Democratic stimulus plan Schumer unveiled earlier in the week.
Schumer’s $750 billion stimulus proposal, unveiled to the press on Monday and Tuesday, made no mention of a $100 billion-plus injection of federal aid to the states.
Instead, it was broken down into a $400 billion emergency appropriation to fund programs designed to support a pandemic response and $350 billion to bolster the social safety net designed to help working class Americans.
The initial Democratic proposal would have allocated the $400 billion in pandemic response funds to paying for hospital beds, ventilators, masks and other protective equipment; child care services; and low-interest loans and loan forgiveness.
Democrats proposed spending an additional $350 billion on expanding unemployment insurance, increasing federal Medicaid contributions to states, increasing contributions to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and canceling monthly student debt payments.