House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to immediately restart coronavirus relief discussions in Washington as the United States faces an alarming uptick in cases of Covid-19.
“The House has acted,” they said in a letter. “It is unacceptable that the Senate would recess without addressing this urgent issue.”
Pelosi and Schumer said state and local governments are struggling to cover essential services like schools without additional aid, and Americans are continuing to face the burden of rent payments and evictions; in the meantime, they said, “Senate Republicans have been missing in action.”
McConnell has indicated that talks will not resume until after the Senate’s two-week Fourth of July recess.
Senate Republicans have argued that much of the aid authorized by the CARES Act in March has not yet been distributed, and many are in favor of waiting to see how that spending shakes out before passing another bill.
In May, the Democratic-led House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act, a $3 trillion rescue bill, but GOP leaders have said that legislation will be dead on arrival in the Senate.
Last week, President Trump said that another “generous” bipartisan stimulus bill would be announced “in the next couple of weeks.”
What to watch for
The extra $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits authorized by the CARES Act will run out on July 31. With more than 20 million Americans still unemployed, discussions over whether or not to extend that benefit will be front and center in Washington in the weeks to come.
Coronavirus cases are rising to record levels, prompting some states to pause or roll back their reopening plans and raising questions about the economic toll of a second wave of business closures. White House officials and Republican negotiators have decided they won’t hold negotiations on the next round of stimulus legislation until after Congress returns from recess at the end of July. May’s better-than-expected jobs numbers may have thrown a wrench in the process, with some lawmakers, including President Trump, taking the surprising good news as a sign that the economy is already on the road to recovery. The $3 trillion Heroes Act—a massive piece of economic rescue legislation that included aid for state and local governments, front-line workers, and even another round of stimulus checks—passed the House last month but was widely criticized by Republicans, who said it was an unrealistic, partisan offering. McConnell (R-Ky.) said last month that the next round of stimulus legislation will be the “final” bill Congress passes, and that it will be narrower in scope than the CARES Act.