news 1 month ago

Senate leaves town until September without signing a coronavirus relief bill

BGR — Jacob Siegal
  • The US Senate has adjourned until September 8th as senators could not reach an agreement on a new coronavirus stimulus package to assist the American people during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Senate can still meet with 24 hours notice if a deal is made, but the Democrats and Republicans appear to be at a stalemate as no progress has been made in recent days.
  • The House passed a bill with new stimulus checks, expanded unemployment insurance, money for state governments, and more back in May, but the Senate has never taken it up.

If you were holding out hope that another coronavirus relief bill might be signed before the end of the month, we have some bad news for you. On Thursday, the US Senate left Washington, DC without reaching a deal, which means any legislation being passed before the Senate returns on September 8th is highly unlikely.

With millions of Americans still unemployed and no end in sight to the pandemic as tens of thousands of Americans test positive for the novel coronavirus every day, it seemed impossible that the Senate would be unable to come to an agreement to ensure that Americans can pay their bills. Nevertheless, that’s precisely what happened, and the Senate never even held a vote. The Senate had been back in session since July 20th, and this week was meant to be the first week of the August recess, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delayed.

“After the Senate adjourns today, we will have our regular pro forma meetings through the end of the state work period,” Majority Leader McConnell announced on the Senate floor on Thursday. “If the speaker of the House and the Minority Leader of the Senate decide to finally let another rescue package move forward for workers and for families, it would take bipartisan consent to meet for legislative business sooner than scheduled. As has been the case, the senators would receive at least 24 hours’ notice before any unanticipated votes.”

According to The Hill, the four key negotiators — McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — haven’t met since last Friday, which is when talks fizzled out. On Thursday, Pelosi said that she and the administration were still “miles apart in our values,” and added that perhaps the reporters had mistaken the Senate Republicans “for somebody who gave a damn.”

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act in May, which would have, among other things, sent a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks to Americans, provided crucial funds for state and local governments, extended unemployment compensation and benefits, and expanded the PPP. The Senate has yet to take any action on the HEROES Act, which McConnell called “an unserious product from an unserious majority.”

In July 2020, the unemployment rate dropped to 10.2% from a high of 14.7% in April. That is a marked improvement, but 10.2% is still higher than the peak that the US reached during the Great Recession.

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