Today, House Democrats put forth a coronavirus relief package that would provide financial aid to states, businesses and families in the amount of $3 trillion. Of this, $1 trillion would be designated for state and local governments. In addition, $75 billion would be used for testing, $25 billion is for the U.S. Postal Service and $10 billion is assigned as emergency grants for small businesses. The bill would also cover direct payments to citizens up to $6,000 per household and lengthen the time frame for enhanced federal unemployment payments to January. House members are expected to meet on Friday to vote on the legislation.
The response by Senate Republicans has been one of outright refusal. Many Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who hasn’t looked at the new proposal yet, said that it’s “a partisan wish list with no chance – no chance – of becoming law. We’re going to insist on doing narrowly targeted legislation if and when we do legislate again.” Republicans say they don’t want to pass any new relief legislation now because we need to see the impact of the nearly $3 trillion that was already issued in response to the virus. In addition, they feel that any new stimulus package should include provisions that protect businesses from lawsuits related to the virus. Business lobbying groups have been pressing for this to prevent employees, customers and others from suing companies that follow accepted health guidelines as they reopen since health officials are warning that a hasty lifting of lockdowns could lead to new outbreaks.
Democrats in the House and Senate disapprove of the idea for legal protections and accuse Republicans of trying to use the pandemic to get long-sought tort reforms put in place. In defense of the proposed bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated, “There are those who’ve said let’s just pause. But the families who are suffering know that hunger doesn’t take a pause, the rent doesn’t take a pause, the bills don’t take a pause, the hardship of losing a job or tragically losing a loved one doesn’t take a pause.”