Congress recesses without reaching COVID-19 relief agreement
For weeks the Senate and House of Representatives have been attempting to negotiate a second stimulus package to address the economic affects of COVID-19. However, due to disagreements in the amount of aid to be provided and what individuals and entities would be eligible, both houses have failed to reach an agreement. It is now increasingly likely that Americans will not see additional economic aid until late September.
As discussed in our August 10 article, President Donald Trump attempted to address the dwindling COVID-19 economic aid by signing four executive actions that would provide additional unemployment benefits, defer payroll taxes, extend the moratorium on student loan payments, and provide for the ability to halt evictions and foreclosures. However, the executive actions remain highly controversial throughout the political and legal arenas and it remains unclear if and when the relief will be provided. It is possible that some individuals will see the unemployment benefits promised by President Trump’s executive memorandum in the coming week. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that several states, including Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana and New Mexico have been approved to receive funds under the lost wages assistance program.
Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that any agreement regarding COVID-19 relief will be reached before the houses return from recess. Doing so would require that both the Senate and the House of Representatives be called back to Washington D.C. to continue negotiations and vote. At this time both political parties and houses seem very far apart in their ideas of what should be included in the next stimulus package, with the largest point of contention being cost. The HEROES Act, introduced by House Democrats proposed an additional $3 trillion in federal aid, while the Senate Republican backed HEALS Act proposed $1 trillion. In addition, both houses are now facing a new battle related to the United States Postal Service financial issues which could affect its operations and the upcoming presidential election. It is likely that the new stimulus bill would include additional funding to the USPS but with additional funding comes additional negotiation between both houses. As always, we will continue to provide updates as they become available.