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Capitol Correspondence - 08.18.20

Negotiations on COVID-19 Package Likely Stalled Until September

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Negotiations on a potential COVID-19 package have reached a standstill over partisan disagreements outlined below and might not resume until fall even as the Senate GOP plans a smaller package proposal. While this might seem disheartening, ANCOR reminds advocates that there is tremendous political pressure for these negotiations to continue. While legislation might be delayed, it is too soon to give up hope – we will let you know as soon as it is the right time to step up your advocacy. In the meantime, to show Congress that there is a continued need for more funding, we strongly encourage our members to apply for HHS’ emergency relief funds. The more people apply, the more powerful our voice will be in making the case that the needs of the pandemic’s #ForgottenFaces have not yet been met, illustrating the need for Congress to take further action.

As reported by Politico Pro:

“White House officials and top Democratic leaders signaled on Wednesday that they can’t agree to meet face-to-face, much less forge a compromise, on a Covid-19 relief bill to help the battered U.S. economy or tens of millions of Americans facing financial hardship.

The high-stakes stalemate now appears likely to drag on for weeks, or even into September, according to lawmakers and aides in both parties.

[…]

Among the key outstanding issues is the overall price tag for the next coronavirus relief package. The White House and Senate Republicans want to keep the cost of the package around $1 trillion, while Pelosi and Schumer initially pushed for the nearly $3.5 trillion HEROES Act, H.R. 6800 (116), that the House passed in May.

During negotiations last week, Pelosi and Schumer offered to come down $1 trillion if the White House came up $1 trillion, but Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows rejected that offer. […]

Other key policy disputes include restoration of enhanced federal unemployment benefits. Democrats are pushing for an extension of the $600 weekly federal benefit from the March CARES Act, which expired in July. Republicans, however, argue that the weekly payment is a disincentive to work. In closed-door negotiations last week, the White House offered to provide a $400 weekly benefit through mid-December, but Democrats rejected that move. Pelosi and Schumer are pushing for extending the payment well into 2021.

In addition, Democrats are pushing for substantially more funding for state and local governments. But Republicans argue that most of the money from the CARES Act has yet to be spent.”