Congress Returns To COVID-19 Relief, Government Funding Post-Recess
The U.S. Senate may vote soon on a coronavirus relief package following several weeks of talks between Senate Republicans and the White House. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell may push for an initial vote as soon as Thursday.
The legislation is expected to be approximately half the size of the $1 trillion proposal Senate Republicans were discussing in July. It will reportedly include a federal unemployment benefit, further Paycheck Protection Program funding, money for coronavirus testing and schools and liability protection from lawsuits related to the COVID-19 virus. It will not include money for state and local governments, a priority for congressional Democrats, and another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, which had been part of the Republican’s July proposal.
The bill is not expected to have the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Democratic filibuster and with bipartisan talks stalled, observers don’t expect the legislation to move much.
While coronavirus relief is still uncertain, there has been headway on avoiding a government shutdown at the end of the month. Last week, it was reported that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have agreed on a clean, stop-gap measure that would avoid controversial amendments and riders that could slow its passage. While it’s uncertain how long the legislation would fund the federal government, it is expected to go at least through December. This would also mean that coronavirus aid and government funding would not be part of the same discussion in D.C.