Congress will resume session Monday with the federal governments $600 weekly Coronavirus aid package set to expire in just two weeks.
What We Know:
- Around 25 million Americans receive the extra $600 weekly, adding to the state unemployment benefits instituted to help people through the global pandemic which has rocked the U.S. economy for the majority of 2020.
- House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) were set to meet with President Trump at the White House Monday morning to discuss the next COVID-19 aid package, the Wall Street Journal reported.
- Trump signaled that he would veto what would become the fifth aid package if some of his priorities were not met. “I’ll have to see but, yeah, I would consider not signing it if we don’t have a payroll tax cut,” he told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. He also added that he wanted the bill to include liability protections for employers, which Republican lawmakers have pushed for. “We do need protections because businesses are going to get sued just because somebody walked in. You don’t know where this virus comes from. They’ll sit down at a restaurant. They’ll sue the restaurant, the guy’s out of business.’’
- Democrats want the current package to continue through January, a measure that would cost $15 billion a week, but Republicans fear it discourages people from returning to work.
- Leader McConnell and other Republicans are hoping to provide a legal shield for businesses, schools, health-care providers and nonprofits from lawsuits arising from the coronavirus pandemic. McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) are proposing to make it more difficult to find organizations liable in cases where someone was allegedly exposed to the coronavirus. Some Democrat’s have even acknowledged that this could be an important implementation. “I understand why for a lot of businesses this is uncharted territory,” Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) said in reference to liability protections. “So I’m not opposed to having a discussion that addresses some of those concerns, but that can’t be the main relief mechanism in the next bill.”
- Many lawmakers are pushing for the next bill to include additional and significant funding for schools and universities to use to help with the cost of reopening during a pandemic, hoping to build on the $100 billion they provided schools in May.
- Though both sides of the aisle are in favor of cranking out a new package, they do not come without their differences in how the package should be structured. President Trump and other White House officials have suggested that private schools should also receive funding and that funding should be contingent on schools plans to reopen, two measures Democrats oppose. “I’m not in favor of spending taxpayer dollars on private schools. The first thing we need is an overall public health approach, and the second thing is instead of shouting at schools that you must reopen, we must give them the resources they need to do so,” Said Rep. Andy Levin (D- MI) who is also the vice chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.
- Another possible point of contention could be funding to cities and states. Democrats have pushed for nearly $1 trillion in additional aid to local governments while some Republicans have opposed sending any additional aid at all. “State and local is at the very, very top of the list because it is so vital,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) adding that they would hold out for as much as they can get.
With the $600 weekly checks cutting off July 30, the typically gridlocked Congress will need to move quickly as Coronavirus second wave fears grow.