As relief funds dry up, and the benefits from the CARES Act have ended or are close to doing so, a new stimulus plan is being debated by lawmakers in Congress. How close are Democrats and Republicans to reaching an agreement?
A coronavirus relief agreement in Congress looks almost impossible on Thursday as new economic data showed a U.S. economy struggling under the pandemic’s weight.
Republican Senator Ron Johnson tried to unanimously pass an extension of the weekly enhanced federal unemployment insurance on Thursday afternoon that would slash the benefit from $600 to $200 per week. Democrat Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer rejected it.
Then, Schumer attempted to unanimously approve the HEROES Act passed in May. That legislation also failed, leaving Congress no closer to reaching an agreement on how to help Americans during the economic crisis.
Democratic leaders and Trump administration officials left a meeting on Wednesday saying they were no closer to ironing out differences in the issues each side considers urgent in a new relief bill.
Congressional leaders are now blaming each other for the inevitable expiration of the $600 per week enhanced federal unemployment insurance which has ended and left millions of American Families without a vital lifeline.
On Thursday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of refusing to “engage” with the GOP after it released its coronavirus relief proposal on Monday.
Both parties have many differences to resolve on a range of issues, most notably the unemployment insurance extensión, but Democrats have also criticized the lack of several other provisions in the GOP plan, including direct aid for state and local governments and funds for rent, mortgage, and food assistance. They also oppose liability protections for businesses, doctors, and schools, which McConnell has said is a dealbreaker.
On Thursday, Schumer said the lack of a Republican consensus on pandemic aid has hindered progress toward a deal, for many Republicans do not support the proposal presented this week.
As Friday is the deadline to reach an agreement, and this doesn’t seem close to happening, both the President and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin hinted the possibility of passing a short-term deal to extend the unemployment insurance and a federal eviction moratorium on Wednesday.
Pelosi and Schumer have both said they will not support a temporary fix.
Even though on Thursday progress seemed impossible, Schumer said he believes the parties can still reach a deal.
A new bill should be passed before lawmakers leave for the August recess if they want economic help to reach Americans soon.