The US Capitol building in Washington, DC, the US, September 8, 2020. Picture: STEFANI REYNOLDS/BLOOMBERG
The US Capitol building in Washington, DC, the US, September 8, 2020. Picture: STEFANI REYNOLDS/BLOOMBERG

Washington — Senate Republicans introduced a slimmed-down stimulus bill that would restore some of the extra unemployment benefits that expired in July and provide another round of relief for small businesses hit by the Covid-19 crisis.

The legislation, which Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted earlier on Tuesday as a political stunt that did not amount to a real effort to help the economy, also includes politically charged components such as greater use of tax-privilege funds for private school expenses.

Weekly supplemental unemployment benefits would resume at $300, down from $600 in the Cares Act that was approved in the spring. The extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses will cost $258bn, according to a summary of the bill.

The bill does not  include a second round of $1,200 stimulus payments for many lower- and middle-income individuals — a provision that both House Democrats and Senate Republicans had backed in prior versions of stimulus legislation.

A tax break for charitable donations would be expanded to $600 for all taxpayers in 2020. The Cares Act included a $300 deduction for individuals, even if they do not provide details in  their tax returns, which is typically a requirement.

Small businesses could get loans equal to 2.5 times their average monthly payroll costs, with a maximum loan value of $2m, the legislation showed. It also provides the IRS with more resources to audit companies that take PPP loans.

As for schooling, the legislation would also create a two-year tax break for donors who contribute to scholarship funds that give students money for private school and homeschooling costs.

The bill would reduce liabilities for businesses stemming from the coronavirus pandemic as well as provisions meant to boost rare earth minerals mining in the US. It would convert a $10bn loan to the US Postal Service that was approved earlier  to a grant and fund coronavirus testing. The $105bn for education is complemented by funding for private-school students.


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