Will Pelosi & McConnell Come Together to Pass COVID-19 Relief Bill?

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Congress has failed to come to a bipartisan agreement on a COVID-19 relief bill as the U.S. loses control of its Covid-19 outbreak. Lawmakers have not passed new aid in months during the health and economic crisis. As the virus again overwhelms hospitals and forces state and local officials to restrict economic activity, Republicans and Democrats have not budged from their positions on stimulus.

The country recorded a seven-day average of more than 150,000 cases a day on Monday, November 16. The virus has now killed more than 248,000 Americans, as of November 18.

Pelosi determined to pass a full Democratic relief bill

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. asked Mitch McConnell R-KY in a letter to “join us at the negotiating table this week so that we can work towards a bipartisan, bicameral COVID-19 relief agreement to crush the virus and save American lives.” 

While requiring more money for schools, small businesses, state and local governments, and unemployment insurance, the Democrats wrote that the “pandemic and economic recession will not end without our help.”

Pelosi has made it clear where she stands on America’s next relief bill and remains unmovable on the subject. She has continued to push for a sweeping package after House Democrats passed a $2.2 trillion bill last month. She contended Biden’s election gives Democrats more leverage in legislative talks. Biden on Monday called on Congress to pass a bill similar to the Democrats’ HEROES Act before he takes office.

This potential House-passed bill would reinstate the $600-per-week supplemental jobless benefit that expired earlier this year, give another $1,200 stimulus check to individuals, send more than $400 billion to state and local governments, and authorize more small business loans, among other provisions.

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McConnell stands firm on the country’s finances

McConnell has voiced that he is not against another relief package, but believes that America’s economy can only handle one at about $500 billion, and “narrowly targeted at schools, at healthcare providers, at PPP, and of course liability reform” are top priorities. 

McConnell has insisted in recent days that the pace of economic recovery means Congress needs only to pass these “targeted, narrow” plans to get the country through the next few months. On Tuesday, November 17, he refuted that it was the Democrats who are prolonging the passing of the next relief package.

The Republican legislation has agreed the next relief bill will include a $300-per-week enhanced unemployment benefit, more Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses, and liability protections for companies. Furthermore, it would not send a second direct payment to most Americans.

What’s next?

Congress appears nowhere close to passing another coronavirus relief bill as the virus continues to surge across the country and new public health restrictions threaten businesses and jobs.

Yet, both McConnell and Pelosi have signaled they want to pass legislation this year before Biden takes office. But neither leader has shown willingness to yield ground, making it unclear what could get through the GOP-controlled Senate and Democratic-held House. Americans wait and see if we will receive further financial aid during these uncertain and trying times. 

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