Tags: Coronavirus | Congress | Democrats | Senate | relief bill | Schumer | Pelosi

Congress Gears Up for Negotiations on Another Virus Relief Bill

mcconnell smiling and giving a thumbs up wearing a suit and red tie
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 22 May 2020 09:10 AM

Congress is inching toward another coronavirus relief bill, but what it will look like remains to be seen as party members begin to draw hard lines on what they are willing to negotiate on. 

House Democrats put forth their plan in the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which includes state and local financial aid, another round of $1,200 direct payments, pay raises for frontline workers and an extension until January of the $600-per-week unemployment compensation. The bill also includes measures that Republicans ripped as a "liberal wish list" that are not directly related to issues caused by the coronavirus. 

President Donald Trump told reporters the bill was “dead on arrival.” The Republican-led Senate hasn’t discussed any relief legislation, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn’t totally pushed the idea aside, NBC News reports. 

"If we do another bill, it won't look anything like the House Democrats' bill," McConnell told House Republicans in a teleconference Wednesday.

McConnell said he won't support extending the temporary unemployment insurance benefit to an additional $600 per week. He also continued to push for liability protections for employers. 

Two senior Democrat aides told NBC News that party leaders are waiting for Republicans to make a counteroffer. 

One of the aides said "cracks" are emerging in the Republican resistance to additional measures. The second aide said, "The ball is in their court.”

"Given the crisis that we face, I think it would be far more productive if the leaders in both the House and the Senate put away partisan wish lists and seriously began to negotiate a package," Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who wants up to $500 billion in aid for states, told NBC.

Some Republicans from the hardest-hit states are pushing for more relief.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., is advocating for more financial help for states. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, is proposing that people who return to work should get federally funded bonuses.

But some Republicans aren’t totally on board with issuing another stimulus bill. 

"The best stimulus bill is to reopen the economy," Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., told NBC.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is urging Senate Republicans to take action. 

"Instead of telling laid-off workers to pause," she said Thursday, "Leader McConnell and the Senate GOP need to come to the negotiating table to help deliver the relief to protect lives and livelihoods."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is also putting pressure on GOP officials. 

"The House has passed a major bill dealing with COVID,” he said. “We have done nothing on this floor to vote on anything about COVID."

There is bipartisan support for making changes to the Paycheck Protection Program in order to give small businesses more flexibility in spending the loan money. But how other factors like setting aside money for mail-in election ballots and direct payments to people who file taxes with tax identification numbers will fare in a final bill remains unclear. 

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Congress is inching toward another coronavirus relief bill, but what it will look like remains to be seen as party members begin to draw hard lines on what they are willing to negotiate on. House Democrats put forth their plan in the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which includes...
Congress, Democrats, Senate, relief bill, Schumer, Pelosi, McConnell
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2020-10-22
Friday, 22 May 2020 09:10 AM
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