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U.S. Senate likely to vote on COVID stimulus bill this week as unemployment benefits set to expire

Washington, DC – Congress returned from its month long summer recess this week with an eye on additional coronavirus stimulus. Politico reported that Senate GOP leaders plan to introduce a new bill, totaling about $500 billion, with votes potentially coming as soon as Thursday, September 10th. ‘

The bill will include an additional $300 per week in federal unemployment benefits through the end of the year, more money for the small business Paycheck Protection Program, and COVID–related liability protections for organizations like schools, churches, and businesses.

“It does not contain every idea our party likes,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Politico about the new bill. “I am confident Democrats will feel the same. Yet Republicans believe the many serious differences between our two parties should not stand in the way of agreeing where we can agree, and making law that helps our nation.”

It is unlikely the bill will reach the necessary 60 vote threshold needed to clear an expected filibuster from Democrats, who want to see additional money for unemployment benefits, among other objections. Democrats in the House passed a $3 trillion bill in May that has since gone nowhere in the GOP–controlled Senate. Since then, congressional leaders and White House officials have failed to agree on a stimulus package, with the election now less than two months away.

The lack of action spurred President Trump to issue an executive order using monies and authority under the Federal Emergency Management Administration statute for natural disasters. A tweet from the Alabama Department of Labor confirmed that the State applied for and received an additional fifth week of $300 per week benefits under the Lost Wages Assistance program. Going forward, Alabama must apply for and receive federal approval for additional weeks, but the money in that fund is finite, which means Alabama may not be granted future requests for extension.

In the meantime, 405 additional confirmed cases were reported in Alabama today, and the state reported its lowest level of hospitalizations since June 30th – now at 778 inpatients with 107 hospitals reporting. However, experts warn of a potential uptick in cases and hospitalizations as people return home from Labor Day holiday celebrations.

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