The coronavirus pandemic has taken an inconceivable toll on the American economy. It’s caused the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression, decimated millions of small businesses, and set off a wave of big corporate bankruptcies.
Since March, Washington lawmakers have been scrambling to prevent a full-scale economic meltdown while managing a public health crisis. So far, they’ve passed four major pieces of coronavirus rescue legislation (more on that below) anchored by the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the largest economic stimulus package in American history.
The road to the passage of the CARES Act on March 27 was rocky, at best. There were competing bills from each chamber of Congress, and accusations of partisanship flew freely as lawmakers maneuvered to get their own priorities written into the law—and blamed the other party for any delay. Senate Democrats blocked an early Republican version of the bill to force stricter oversight of corporate bailout money and more generous support for workers.
On May 15, House Democrats passed their own proposal for the next stimulus bill, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has vowed will be the last. The House-passed $3 trillion Heroes Act, however, was never taken up by Senate Republicans, and Democrats were left waiting for an opening proposal from the other side of the aisle to kick off negotiations in earnest. Republicans, meanwhile, are fighting bitterly among themselves and struggling to agree on policy priorities. They introduced their proposal—called the HEALS Act—in late July, but it’s an amalgamation of separate bills from separate Senators instead of a single piece of legislation.
With the election looming in November and a spike in Covid-19 cases already slowing reopening plans and threatening more economic damage, the fight could get ugly—even by D.C. standards.
For more information visit https://www.forbes.com/sites/sarahhansen/2020/07/31/600-unemployment-expires-and-politicians-hurl-accusations-everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-battle-over-the-next-stimulus-bill/#3682a1d33923