Capitol Correspondence - 08.25.20

“Slim” Senate GOP COVID-19 Proposal Unlikely to Break Negotiations Stalemate

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As ANCOR alluded to last week, the Senate released a trimmed-down version of the HEALS Act (note that the first paragraph of the linked document refers to a resolution condemning China, but the COVID-19 proposal is listed as text to be substituted in further down in the text). As reported by Inside Health Policy, the proposal “includes liability protections for businesses, which would include health care workers, an extension of the federal unemployment benefit but at reduced levels, and more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program. It also includes $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service.

But Democrats want to see funding for states and local governments, which was included in their $3 trillion-plus package. The Democrat-backed package also included $25 billion for USPS. At a Politico Playbook event on Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) criticized the Republican package for not allocating enough money but said Democrats are willing to cut their own bill in half to see a compromise. That proposal reportedly would include the same elements as the earlier $3 trillion-plus package but end the relief earlier.”

Politico Pulse further elaborates on Democratic dissatisfaction with the GOP proposal: “The House speaker officially signaled her opposition to voting on new coronavirus aid measures when the chamber returns this weekend, writing Thursday that while Democratic members have pitched a series of good ideas, ‘we must consider their timing and strategic value.’

‘They cannot come at the expense of addressing priorities of the Heroes Act,’ she wrote in a Dear Colleague letter, in reference to the sweeping Democratic relief bill passed in May, ‘particularly support for our heroes in state and local government and education, who are in crisis.’”

ANCOR continues to discuss the needs of disability providers with congressional staff throughout this stalemate, and will keep members informed of strategic opportunities to get loud about the need to fund Medicaid during the pandemic as these opportunities emerge.