What’s in the $1.8 trillion White House stimulus bill, anyway? What we know and don’t


Get to know what’s in the bills that’ll soon be voted on.

Angela Lang/CNET

Following the status of negotiations over another COVID relief package in painstaking detail is one thing. Knowing the exact contents of the stimulus bill now being cobbled together in the highest echelons of government is another. 

The short-short version is that, as of Sunday, a few main issues stand in the way. Namely, the final figures for unemployment support, educational funding and national testing, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Sunday on State of the Union.

This gives us some clue of what’s in the bill, but many details have been kept close to the vest. Here’s what we think might be in the stimulus proposal and what we still don’t know. We update this story with new information.

What’s in the bill under current negotiation?

When the $1.8 trillion White House offer first came through on Oct. 9, we glimpsed the starting point of what the bill could contain. Since then, bits and pieces of information have trickled out, giving us a rough sketch of the bill’s funding. 

It’s estimated that the package could now be worth $1.9 trillion or even more. The CARES Act from March cost $2 trillion and the House of Representatives’ revised Heroes Act came in at $2.2 trillion. Here’s what we know based off early details from The Washington Post and what we’ve heard since.

Another stimulus payment: Stimulus checks of up to $1,200 for eligible adults and $1,000 for qualifying child dependents (the CARES Act set dependent payments at $500). Here’s how you can calculate your total sum if this change sticks. 

Unemployment benefits: The proposal originally set enhanced unemployment benefits at $400 a week. That’s down from the $600 included in the CARES Act but up from the $300 that the president authorized this summer through executive action. The final figure remains a sticking point in negotiations.

Funding for coronavirus testing, tracing and treatment: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the lead White House negotiator, had ceded ground on this previous blocker, saying the White House would add money for coronavirus testing and tracing to its stimulus offer.

State and local funding: A big sticking point, the proposal includes $300 billion for cities and states, up from $250 billion in an earlier proposal.

Liability protections for businesses: While we don’t know the details of the liability protections included in the bill, a liability shield would protect businesses, schools and doctors from coronavirus lawsuits. Pelosi has repeatedly characterized liability protection as an obstacle to reaching a deal.

School and child care funding: This appears to be another blocker that Pelosi is maneuvering to get into the final bill. “The education piece is another policy piece where we have some disagreement,” she said Sunday on State of the Union.

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Next stimulus checks: What to expect


Details we don’t know about the next economic stimulus bill

There is much the two sides have not revealed about the current plan, either in specific details or cost. Among the areas that two sides have have gone into detail include:

For more information, here’s what you need to know about coronavirus hardship loans and unemployment insurance, and what you can do if you’ve lost your job.

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