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Senate Republicans, House Democrats and the White House have not reached a new deal on COVID-19 relief for six months. And as the days go by without any additional federal help, the country’s economic health remains uncertain.
Congress speedily passed legislation worth a record-breaking $3 trillion in the spring to help struggling Americans at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak, though that same dealmaking urgency hasn’t been seen since.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans are still facing layoffs and tens of millions are inching closer to eviction. The unemployment rate, currently at 7.9% — an estimated 12 million people — is more than double its level before the pandemic. Republicans and Democrats have not agreed upon an extension to extra $600 in weekly unemployment income that expired at the end of July, nor have they passed another round of $1,200 direct payments.
The hold-up on stimulus has also left state and local governments grappling with tight budgets, with one study showing a projected 2020 revenue loss over $150 billion. Small businesses, as well as major companies, are suffering from financial wounds. After federal aid dried up this month for big airlines, United Airlines and American Airlines furloughed roughly 32,000 employees. Industries affected by the pandemic have lobbied for more relief for weeks, to no avail, while economists warn of an unsteady recovery without more government support.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and chief White House negotiator Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have escalated talks for a deal in recent days. Yet President Donald Trump’s sudden demands for Senate Republicans to come to the negotiating table have been ignored, as many refuse to approve another large spending package and are focused on confirming a new justice to the Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. An agreement between the three parties continues to hang in the balance.
Here’s a timeline of how the negotiations have gone.
April 24: Trump signed the last relief bill. The legislation, dubbed the “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act,” authorized an additional $484 billion to replenish programs approved in March 27’s CARES Act.
May 15: The House passed its new coronavirus bill worth over $3 trillion. Known as the HEROES Act, the bill was unveiled on the House floor three days earlier, and would have provided another round of $1,200 checks, $1 trillion for state and local governments, offer hazard pay for employees, among other provisions that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called “an 1,800-page seasonal catalog of left-wing oddities.” The top Republican also said the bill was “dead on arrival” after reaching the Senate.
May 29: McConnell says another bill will come “in the next month or so.” The Senate majority leader shut down the idea of new relief passing anytime soon during a press briefing in his home state of Kentucky. “We need to push the pause button here and think about the next step,” he said, raising concerns about federal debt levels; but many economists have recommended more …read more
Source:: Businessinsider – Politics