Gov. Tim Walz is urging Congress to pass a new relief package to help small businesses ahead of series of new increased restrictions to combat COVID-19 going into effect in Minnesota Friday night.
These closures include take-out only for bars and restaurants, as well as closures of gyms and entertainment venues, and bans on social gatherings.
This comes as some federal relief provisions aimed at helping workers and families amid the COVID-19 pandemic have expired, while others are set to at the end of the year.
With Minnesota already facing a major budget deficit, Walz called on Congress to provide support for Minnesotans, especially bars and restaurants that have been hit hard by the pandemic.
"I would settle for a scaled-down package that targets small employers and workers, particularly regarding the hospitality industry," Walz said Wednesday, noting he has sent a letter to Congressional leaders asking for a stimulus package.
So, where does a possible relief package stand?
The $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed by Congress in March expanded unemployment benefits by $600 for four months. While that provision has expired, benefits including eligibility for freelance workers and workers who have to stay home for pandemic-related reasons are set to expire at the end of the year, per CNN.
The CARES Act suspended student loan payments and interest through September. President Donald Trump later extended that action through the end of the year via executive order.
The CARES Act also provided individuals with one-off $1,200 stimulus checks, $2,400 for married couples and an additional $500 per child under 17 in a household.
Democrats in the House passed a second round of stimulus in October. The $2.2 trillion bill would again provide $600 extra in unemployment benefits and send out another round of stimulus checks.
In negotiations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the White House rejected the $2.2 trillion bill, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin instead proposing one of $1.8 trillion. Pelosi rejected that proposal, claiming it did not go far enough with testing, tracing and childcare, according to CBS.
The $2.2 trillion figure was also opposed by the GOP-controlled Senate, which supported a smaller bill of $500 billion. This was also blocked by Democratic senators who argued it didn't go far enough, and failed to get the 60 votes it needed to pass.
The Republican bill would provide $300 unemployment bonuses, though it does not include another round of stimulus checks, according to Business Insider.
President-elect Joe Biden has urged Congress to act quickly on a stimulus bill, stating he would support the Democrats’ $2.2 trillion bill, per CNBC, but added that he would also support the $3.4 trillion bill passed by the House six months ago before it was slimmed down for the October vote.
This week, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell inviting him to resume negotiations on a stimulus bill.
McConnell however hit back, claiming Democrats are to blame for the lack of stimulus by blocking the GOP's earlier $500 billion bill.