From Stimulus Checks To Aid For Entertainment Venues, Here’s What’s Delaying The Covid-19 Relief Deal
Top lawmakers and officials in Washington are racing against the clock to finalize a $900 billion federal coronavirus relief bill before the holidays—here’s some of what’s holding them up.
Since the final agreement will not include a dedicated tranche of federal aid for state, local and tribal governments—a major priority for Democrats that was dropped in exchange for the exclusion of a liability shield for businesses that Republicans wanted—Democrats are now pushing for funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that it could distribute to states and cities, but Republicans oppose the measure.
Democrats also want to extend the December 31 deadline for states and cities to use money allocated to them in the CARES Act, the Washington Post reported, but Republicans oppose that, too.
The Post added that some Republicans including Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) are seeking to put limits on the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending programs, but Democrats believe this will hamstring the central bank under President-elect Joe Biden.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wants the bill to provide $17 billion for entertainment venues, but some are worried that the money will eat into a separate fund for restaurants, Politico reported.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told MSNBC Thursday morning that the issue of funding for nutrition programs is also holding up negotiations.
The bill on the table is likely to include supplemental unemployment benefits and another round of direct payments, and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) has indicated that some lawmakers want to include language to prevent people from receiving both benefits—that restriction would be incredibly difficult for the Internal Revenue Service to manage and will surely draw resistance from Democrats.
Thune told reporters Thursday morning that negotiators are still grappling with how to restrict the stimulus check benefit (which will reportedly be $600 per adult and $600 per child) in order to keep the overall cost of the legislation down, according to USA Today’s Nicholas Wu.
What To Watch For
Lawmakers are hoping to attach the coronavirus relief legislation to a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill that will fund the government through the 2021 fiscal year. It’s looking increasingly likely that neither the stimulus bill nor budget bill will be ready before a government shutdown deadline on Friday. As a result, Congress will need to pass yet another stopgap budget extension this week to give negotiators more time to reach an agreement and draft legislation, pushing the stimulus debate at least into the weekend and possibly into next week.
Report: Relief Deal Will Include Stimulus Checks, Exclude State Aid And Liability Protections (Forbes)
Senate Leader McConnell Vows ‘We’re Not Leaving’ Without Covid-19 Relief As Rank And File Stews Over Lack Of Stimulus Checks (Forbes)
Pelosi, McConnell, Schumer, And McCarthy Set For Pivotal Stimulus Meeting Ahead Of Friday Shutdown Deadline (Forbes)
Warren Buffett On Stimulus Gridlock: ‘Just Renew The PPP And Get Us To The End Of The Tunnel’ (Forbes)