As benefits expire, rent is due, the school year looms and states struggle, Washington’s warring factions are racing to save the economy and their political fortunes.
TThe coronavirus pandemic had an inconceivable price on the American economy. It caused the highest unemployment rate after the Great Depression, decimated millions of small businesses and sparked a wave of major corporate bankruptcies.
Since March, Washington lawmakers have been busy avoiding a large-scale economic meltdown while managing a public health crisis. So far, they have passed four major coronavirus rescue legislation laws (more detailed below) anchored to the $ 2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the largest economic incentive package in American history. .
The road for the passage of the CARES law on March 27 was, at best, rocky. Each chamber of Congress presented conflicting proposals and partisanship charges flew freely as lawmakers maneuvered to write down their priorities in the law and blamed the other party for any delays. Senate Democrats blocked a first republican version of the bill to force more stringent oversight of corporate bailout funds and more generous support for workers.
On May 15 the Democrats passed to the House its proposal for the next stimulus bill, who has Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised will be the last. The $ 3 trillion dollar Heroes Act, however, was never adopted by Senate Republicans and Democrats were left pending a proposal to open across the hall to kick-start serious negotiations in the coming years. days. Republicans, meanwhile, are rumored fighting bitterly between them and struggling to agree on political priorities.
With the elections looming in November and a spike in Covid-19 cases already slowing down the reopening of plans and threatening more economies damage, the fight could get ugly, even by DC standards.
We will update this page regularly as the drama unfolds, with links to the developments you need to know.
THE LAST ONE
With lawmakers who seem increasingly unlikely to reach an agreement before August, Senate republicans confirm that they are discussing at possible short-term extension federal unemployment benefits increased by $ 600 per week. That evening, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows indicates that short-term extension would be unlikely, and says he hopes lawmakers can find a “real solution” to the problem.
Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader confirmation which now supports a second stimulus check. It also has indicate that the GOP proposal will not include an extension of enhanced unemployment insurance of $ 600 per week, but rather an alternative to these benefits.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) Says that does not expect the next bill to be approved before August.
Congress returns to Washington after a two-week hiatus. There are only 11 days left until the end of the month, when some key provisions of the CARES Act expire and three weeks before the next recession scheduled by lawmakers in August.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) meet President Trump to discuss the bill proposed by the GOP.
What’s up for grabs
CONTROL OF THE SECOND STIMLE
Democrats support sending another round of economic impact payments (also known as stimulus checks) and a provision to do just that was included in the Heroes Act which approved the House in May. President Trump also publicly supported sending a second set of checks. Republicans have been relatively divided on the issue; some have proposed lowering the capitalization where the check starts disappearing down to $ 40,000, down from $ 75,000 for individual filers and $ 150,000 for couples in the CARES Act.
The extended unemployment benefits authorized by the CARES law – an extra $ 600 per week by the federal government – expire in the last week of July. Democrats are firmly convinced of extending the extra benefits, which they say have been a lifeline for some 50 million people who have lost their jobs or been taken away because of the crisis. Republicans have argued that since the $ 600 supplement allows workers with lower wages to receive more from unemployment than they have earned in their normal jobs, the benefits should be reduced or eliminated to motivate Americans to return to work.
AID FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
The CARES law has provided $ 150 billion in direct aid to state and local governments (in addition to other virus-related money) to help them respond to the economic challenges created by the pandemic. Democrats say that was not enough, and the Heroes Act included roughly $ 1 trillion in state and local aid to compensate for the reduction in local tax revenues and to avoid state and local layoffs. Some Republicans, wary of an increasing national deficit and reluctant to save what they consider pro-state blue state governments, oppose more aid.
Protecting companies reopened from workers or customer-sponsored coronavirus lawsuits is a key priority for Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican leaders, who have reported that they will not approve a bailout law that does not include such protection. Democratic leaders, including President of the Chamber Nancy Pelosi, said that aid legislation should give priority to workers, not companies, but some moderate Democrats said they were willing to compromise on the issue.
PAYROLL TAX CUT
President Trump has been increasingly explicit about his desire for a reduction in wage taxes, which would reduce the amount of Social Security and Medicare taxes paid. (Currently, the employer and employee each pay 7.65% of the social security tax for the first $ 137,700 in salaries, plus 1.45% of the Medicare tax on all profits.) Trump has advertised such a tax cut since before the Covid-19 crisis as an incentive for hiring. Some Republicans, though not all, have lined up behind the President on the issue. But critics say wages tax is poorly targeted because it benefits only those who are still employed and could undermine the long-term finances already shaky social security.
As the new academic year looms, the question of whether schools should reopen physically – and federal funding that may depend on those reopenings – is suddenly in the foreground. Trump calls for schools to reopen full-time and it is possible that the GOP bill will withhold funding for federal education by states that do not fully reopen their K-12 schools.
WHERE WE HAVE BEEN
A brief history of 2020 coronavirus bills
A $ 100 billion package that increased private insurance and Medicare coverage to include Covid-19 tests, expanded unemployment insurance and provided paid (government-funded) sick and family leave for some workers affected by the pandemic.
The largest economic bailout bill in American history, priced at $ 2.2 trillion. Among other things, he established the salary protection program (repayable loans for small businesses), sent stimulus checks from $ 1,200 per adult, set up $ 600 extra in federal unemployment benefits, accumulated public health and test funding. and bailout funds have been established for large companies (such as airlines). It also provided temporary relief for those who paid federal student loans and some protection from foreclosures and mortgage evictions, as well as tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals with losses from some businesses.
A $ 484 billion package was approved by a scrambling convention after the first $ 350 billion in PPP forgivable loans ended in just 13 days. It also included more funding for tests and healthcare professionals.