A COVID-19 relief package, reportedly negotiated between a handful of Senate Republicans and Democrats, includes a bailout for Defense Department contractors while excluding a second round of stimulus checks for Americans.
A draft of the relief package, obtained by The Daily Poster, reveals that the spending bill does not include a plan by Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to provide Americans with $1,200 stimulus checks but does provide a bailout for defense contractors.
Slipped into the package, seemingly on the final 525 pages, is an extension of a CARES Act provision that allows federal agencies to pay taxpayer money to defense contractors who are not working during the Chinese coronavirus crisis.
“There are no direct payments for regular working people, people living off tips,” a congressional aide told Matt Taibbi, an independent journalist. “But they made sure there’s a provision in there to help defense contractors who aren’t working right now. They get what they’re looking for.”
The Daily Poster notes:
The draft stimulus legislation obtained by The Daily Poster includes an extension of a program to replace the wages of certain government contractors who miss work due to COVID-19. The program, Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, allows federal agencies to reimburse contractors who are unable to work in person due to the pandemic, and whose jobs do not allow telework, for up to 40 hours per week of lost wages. In effect, the program uses government money to reimburse defense contractors for giving paid leave to their employees. [Emphasis added]
The provision was added to the last page of the 525-page bill after defense contractors sent a letter to congressional lawmakers lobbying for the language. The same bill does not authorize direct payments to millions of Americans — nor does it reimburse small businesses for providing paid leave benefits to their workers. [Emphasis added]
The package, at $748 billion, is far below the more than $3.4 trillion package that Democrats insisted on before the November 3 presidential election and is lower than Republicans’ counteroffers, which totaled nearly $2 trillion.
“In other words, Democrats just agreed to take seven times less than the $1.13 trillion they asked for in the HEROES Act…” Taibbi notes.
The Senate Republicans and Democrats involved with the package include:
- Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)
- Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)
- Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
- Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH)
- Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
- Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
- Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
- Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)
- Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
- Sen. Angus King (I-ME)
As mentioned, Hawley and Sanders’ stimulus checks legislation is omitted from the spending bill. Their plan, overwhelmingly popular with voters, would ensure that single Americans are provided with a $1,200 stimulus check, couples are given $2,400, and each child is given $500.
In short, a couple with three children would get $3,900 in stimulus money to use at their own discretion.
“It would be a dereliction of duty if Congress adjourns for Christmas without having a vote on providing working families with direct payments. Working people are struggling. And they should be the first people given relief, not last,” Hawley said in a statement.
“In the midst of so much economic desperation, Congress cannot go on recess without providing this $1,200 emergency assistance to the American people in their time of need,” Sanders said.
The Hawley-Sanders amendment was excluded from the package as 24.5 million Americans are jobless or underemployed and as state governments have issued economic shutdowns on small and medium-sized businesses, yet giant multinational conglomerates have continued to operate.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.