As funds from the CARES Act end, and the economic decline resulting from the pandemic continues, the need for a second relief bill has become more urgent. Democrats and Republicans agree for the need, but disagree on the size of the need.
Republicans have argued for a $1 trillion plan while Democrats want more. In May the House of Representatives passed a second $3.5 trillion pandemic rescue package. It went to the Senate where the pause button was hit. Republicans there wanted to wait before passing another package.
While the political wrangling goes on, the unemployment rolls continue to grow as the support has dried up. And the overall economy continues to suffer.
The pressure on lawmakers is building. Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer announced progress was being made. “We remain far apart on a number of issues. But we’re finally moving in the right direction,” Schumer said on the Senate floor on Tuesday. “At the moment, the gap between our two parties in the negotiations is about priorities and about scale.” On Monday, Nancy Pelosi said she was hopeful a bill will be agreed upon.
The parties still disagree over the $600 weekly amended unemployment benefit. Pelosi believes they should remain through January while Republicans want to cut the benefit to $200 a week and cap it at 70 percent of a worker’s previous wage.
In a hopeful sign, the parties do agree on another round of $1,200 stimulus payments and on changes to the Pay Check Protection program to help especially hard hit businesses.