With no source of income, many unemployed individuals are struggling to pay bills and provide for their families. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
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Economic hardships loom amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Many Americans received their federal stimulus checks in March, which was part of the CARES Act that was passed by the federal government to help alleviate the economic stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, proposals for a second round of stimulus checks is in the works, according to CNN.

CNN reported that Democrats are planning to extend the stimulus by increasing unemployment benefits, raise the amount of money given to families with children from $500 per dependent to $1,200 per dependent, up to a maximum of three dependents, and provide an additional $75 billion for coronavirus testing.

Meanwhile, CBS News reported that the Trump Administration will consider “asking for additional stimulus money.”

Debates over how the federal government will allocate financial aid previously caused the Senate to remain at a stalemate on April 9 after Democratic and Republican officials blocked competing proposals during an intense debate.

During the meeting, the Democrats in the Senate had rejected the Republican’s proposal to pass an additional $250 billion in funding for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program by unanimous consent, according to CNN.

Instead, they cited that the aid should instead be directed towards providing money for hospitals on the front lines combating coronavirus along with $150 billion in funding for states and local governments.

“[The loan program for small businesses] is a good program, [and] we strongly support it,” Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, told Politico. “But this unanimous consent request was not negotiated. There was no effort made to follow the process that we could get this done.”

At the same time, Republicans blocked the Democrats’ $250 billion proposal for hospitals and local governments.

As the largest aid package in U.S. history, the CARES Act aims to mitigate the economic stress caused by the coronavirus pandemic along with providing medical supplies to healthcare workers on the frontline.

“This is a proud moment for the United States Senate and for the country and we’re going to win this battle in the very near future,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, told CNBC after the bill was passed.

Under the first stimulus package, single adult Americans with an income of $75,000 or less will receive direct cash payment up to $1,200 while couples receive $2,400. In addition, parents would receive $500 for each child under age 17 living in their household, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Payments scaled out by income level, phasing out entirely at $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples without children. Since the pandemic, the nation has faced major economic hardships with over 16 million Americans losing their jobs and filing for unemployment benefits, according to the New York Times.

Government reports indicated that a record high of approximately 6.6 million more workers were laid off during the first week of April. However, as of now, Forbes and the New York Times reports that approximately 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment claims.

With no source of income, many unemployed individuals are confronted with the possibility of not being able to afford food, pay bills or provide for their families.

“I’m stuck, I’m frustrated, and I don’t really know where to go from here,” Kendall Clark, an information technology recruiter from Texas and mother of two, told the New York Times. “The plan is that we don’t pay some bills, but pay the mortgage so we don’t lose the house.”