Time for COVID relief is dwindling. A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a $908 billion COVID relief package on Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is floating a relief proposal and Sen. Mitch McConnell is circulating a wholly inadequate package. The best chance for legislation may be to include it in an omnibus appropriations bill, which Congress must pass this month. Following is a statement from Amy Hanauer, executive director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, regarding congressional negotiations over another round of economic relief.
“With little time left before they adjourn for the year, it is essential that Congress pass and President Trump sign a measure providing economic relief to struggling families and small businesses, fiscal relief to strapped states and localities, and money to swiftly and efficiently deliver COVID-19 vaccines to people around the country when they become available.
“The $908 billion bipartisan plan released yesterday is a shadow of what’s needed. With more than 10 million jobs lost this year, the package provides $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits, far from what families need to thrive. The proposal contains a paltry $160 billion in funding for state and local government, less than a third of what’s needed. The proposal contains no direct aid to families beyond the unemployment benefits, a mistake.
“Meanwhile Senator McConnell is circulating a hoax of a plan with no state and local aid, only one measly month of help for jobless Americans (a transparent and partisan ploy), no stimulus checks, no transit funding, and two enormous giveaways to corporations: a liability shield for companies whose policies contribute to their employees getting sick, and a tax deduction for business meals.
“It is encouraging to learn that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have privately presented a proposal to McConnell and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin. Given earlier leadership by Pelosi and Schumer, it is likely that this proposal is more appropriate in size and scope and does more to focus on family needs and state and local aid.
“December of a lame-duck session is no time for perfection. As the week chugs on, we are eager to see a bolder plan emerge that would do more to halt the economic downturn and help the country through what we all hope will be the final months of the health crisis.”