A second round of stimulus checks returned for discussion Wednesday as U.S. lawmakers near an agreement on a new coronavirus relief deal of about $900 billion, Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, confirmed.
The bipartisan proposal had initially left out stimulus payments but checks in the range of $600 to $700 are now being considered, according to Garcia’s office, which emphasized that the figures are not final as negotiations continue.
These amounts are about half of the initial $1,200 checks distributed during the first round as part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act passed in late March.
The deal could also include an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses for about $257 billion, as well as unemployment benefits of about $300 a week.
“California families and businesses desperately need help now. I’ve pushed for months to expand and extend the Paycheck Protection Program and see hopeful signs for inclusion in a final package,” said Garcia in an emailed statement Wednesday. “This would give a lifeline to small businesses and their employees to stay open during California’s arbitrary shutdown mandates. Other provisions helping individuals and families I hope to see addressed include extending unemployment insurance and direct stimulus.”
Talks about a new relief packet come as federal unemployment benefits are set to expire Dec. 26, which would impact nearly 750,000 Californians, according to an unemployment insurance claims report by the California Policy Lab. About 1.2 million Los Angeles residents have remained unemployed since October, when the unemployment rate reached 12.1%, according to data from the state Employment Development Department. The county’s unemployment rate has steadily dropped since peaking in May when it skyrocketed to 20.3% in April.
It remains unknown when Congress will vote on a deal as back-and-forth negotiations continue.
“I’m encouraged by the progress of negotiations and hope to vote for a good bill soon,” said Garcia, adding in a video shared on social media Wednesday from Washington, D.C., that the bill could pass “hopefully, this week for COVID relief.”