Party leaders still far apart on next round of COVID aid as unemployment, eviction relief expires
Washington, DC – Congressional leaders are working to wrap up negotiations on another coronavirus economic stimulus package prior to their scheduled summer recess at the end of the week. While CNBC reported meetings between leaders of the House, Senate and White House were “productive”, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said they “still have their differences.”
Major differences between the Democrats and Republicans include the extension of the $600 per week of unemployment benefits, liability protections for businesses, hospitals and other organizations, and the amount of aid, if any, for state and local governments. Democrats want to extend the extra unemployment benefits through the end of the year, while Republicans have focused on a percentage of wage replacement rather than a flat number.
Politico reported that the Democrats, having passed a $3 trillion aid package earlier in May, are not budging off of their demands. Democrats believe the brunt of the pressure is on the Republican side of the aisle, with important Senate races and the Presidential election likely to cause some of their members to waver. The crunch comes as the customary August recess, when Congress typically breaks to their districts until after Labor Day, is quickly approaching. Speaker Pelosi has already cancelled the August recess for the House until an aid bill is passed. Meanwhile, Alabama Senator Doug Jones cosigned a letter with other Senators urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to also postpone the recess until the bill is passed, working through the weekend if need be.
As the extra federal benefits for unemployment insurance has expired, a federal moratorium on evictions for those living in federally subsidized apartments also expired on July 25. If Congress does not extend the deadline, owners may resume evictions at the end of August. The Aspen Institute found that approximately 20 million people could face eviction if the moratorium is not extended.
This comes as Alabama reported 963 new COVID-19 cases today, the lowest daily number since early July. An additional 31 deaths were reported due to the coronavirus.