Dems and GOP Remain at Impasse Over Stimulus
Senate members are back this week from summer recess.
House members returned for committee work but won’t vote on measures until September 14.
Both parties are worlds apart on a new stimulus package to aid households and businesses deal with economic collapse.
In May, the Dem-controlled House narrowly passed a new $3.4 trillion stimulus package by a 208 – 199 majority — the so-called Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act.
The measure extends (end of July expired) unemployment benefits through January 2021, along with funding for cash-strapped states and local governments.
It also includes insurance company subsidies through yearend to continue coverage for laid off or furloughed workers whose employers provide so-called high-quality health insurance — many laid off workers excluded from this benefit.
Other provisions include $200 billion in hazard pay for frontline workers, and another $1,200 for laid off individuals up to a maximum of $3,600 for affected households with three or more members.
There’s also more funding for COVID-19 testing and tracing.
At the time, Senate controlled Republicans rejected the House measure.
Back from summer recess, they proposed a slimmed down stimulus measure rejected by House Dems.
Ahead of November 3 presidential and congressional elections, both wings of the one-party state prioritize politics over government serving everyone equitably.
According to Bloomberg, the Senate GOP package includes “some of (what was in a weeks earlier) $1 trillion proposal” — cut to from “$500 to $700 billion” compared to “$2.2 trillion relief that Dem(s) want.”
With a Senate vote scheduled for Thursday, GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the following:
“We want to agree where bipartisan agreement is possible — get more help out the door and then keep arguing over the rest later.”
The GOP measure includes a woefully inadequate/sub-poverty $300 weekly unemployment benefit for jobless workers.
Other provisions include $105 billion for schools, $10 billion to the US Postal Service, $258 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, $47 billion for (harmful to human health coronavirus) vaccine(s) when available and for testing, along with liability protection for employers.
The GOP measure excludes another $1,200 for unemployed individuals, a woefully inadequate benefit Trump supports.
Aid to states, local governments and for troubled airlines is also excluded.
According to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, “(i)f you wanted to draft a bill that was destined to fail, this is it.”
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows called federal aid to states and local governments a major “stumbling block” to reaching congressional consensus.
Restoring now expired $600 in weekly unemployment benefits is another key point of disagreement.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said the White House is amenable to a $1.5 trillion stimulus package.
McConnell earlier failed to get most Republicans to agree on a $1 trillion Senate GOP stimulus plan.
Reportedly, 20 of 53 GOP senators rejected additional spending.
Former Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn believes at least 51 GOP members of the body support the new slimmed-down measure House Dems reject.
Since talks broke down on August 7, House Dems cut $1.1 trillion from HEROES legislation — Pelosi willing to accept $2.2 trillion in lieu of $3.4 trillion.
With less than two months before US elections, Senate Republicans in close races or trailing Dem opponents in polls are amenable to larger-scale unemployment benefits.
The same goes for House Dems closely challenged by GOP opponents — wanting Pelosi to cut a deal with McConnell to get something passed.
Before end of the fiscal year on September 30, stopgap spending legislation must be passed by Congress to prevent a government shutdown — reportedly an issue both sides agree on.
Weeks since unemployment benefits expired in late July, Congress failed to agree on extending them.
If consensus is reached in the coming days or weeks, benefits are likely to be far less than what’s needed during the hardest of hard times since the Great Depression with no clarity on when things may ease.
My two Wall Street books are timely reading:
“How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion, and Class War”
“Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity”