On Monday, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer called on Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to immediately begin negotiations on the new coronavirus bill the House passed weeks ago.
“The nation has seen a dramatic surge in both cases and deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Adding to that pain, our economy is facing one of its greatest challenges since the Great Depression. Over one-fifth of the workforce has requested unemployment assistance,” Pelosi and Schumer wrote in a letter to McConnell. “Now is the time for action, not continued delays and political posturing.”
Many Republicans within the Senate don’t believe the second wave of stimulus checks is necessary and those that do see no reason for stimulus money to be sent out to the end of July or early August.
The Democratic-led House passed another massive relief bill, known as the Heroes Act, 45 days ago. Republicans declared it dead upon its arrival in the Senate and Donald Trump said if it passed, he would veto it.
Right now, Congress is in session, however, on July 3 lawmakers plan on taking a two-week recess. The Senate has no plans to pass the legislation before going on recess.
In their letter, Pelosi and Schumer noted comments that McConnell made on Friday while in Kentucky.
“In July, we’ll take a snapshot of where the country stands, see how the jobs are coming back, see where we think we are. And if there’s a final rescue package, that’s when it will develop and it will start, once again, in my office … the House efforts are simply not practical,” McConnell stated.
“So, we will sit down in July and figure out what seems to fit the way forward based on the conditions a few weeks from now,” McConnell added. “One thing I can tell you will certainly be in the bill — it’s not negotiable — liability protection for hospitals, doctors, nurses, businesses, universities, K-12 related to the coronavirus.”
Democrats know the importance of passing the bill sooner. Several critical deadlines are approaching. Enhanced unemployment benefits passed as part of the $2 trillion Cares Act in March will expire on July 31. The small-business Paycheck Protection Program will stop accepting new loan applications on Tuesday, despite the fact that the fund still has $100 billion left for programs.
“We are outraged that instead of holding bipartisan, bicameral negotiations during the June work period, you chose to prioritize the confirmation of right-wing judges and several Republican-led committees devoted precious time to chasing President Trump’s wild conspiracy theories,” Pelosi and Schumer wrote. “The House has acted. It is unacceptable that the Senate would recess without addressing this urgent issue.”
On Monday, the House moved to pass a bill called the Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act. The act includes “more than $100 billion in emergency rental assistance and homeowner assistance, a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, and billions to respond to and prevent coronavirus outbreaks among homeless people, among other provisions.” However, chances are the Senate will ignore or delay addressing this legislation as well.