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October 5, 2020

House Passes COVID Relief Bill, But Still No Deal With White House

On Thursday, October 1, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 214-207 to pass a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package. That package is nearly one-third smaller than the bill the chamber passed in May, which would have cost $3.4 trillion.

Despite Democrats’ willingness to cut the level of spending they prefer, the U.S. Senate still has no plans to vote on this legislation.

As such, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin continue to meet to try to come to an agreement on a final package, and on Friday, October 2, Speaker Pelosi said she believes a bipartisan coronavirus relief bill is likely. Speaker Pelosi said she anticipates President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis will “change the dynamic” of negotiations.

Democrats are pushing for more aid for state and local governments while Republicans want liability protections for businesses. Secretary Mnuchin reportedly said an agreement would include a substantial amount to revive the economy amid the pandemic-sparked recession.

The House is scheduled to be out until after the election after lawmakers depart today, but they could return to vote on a measure if an agreement is struck. The Senate is scheduled to remain in session this week, and many senators will likely remain in Washington, D.C. right up until the election while the chamber considers Amy Barrett’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The bill passed last week by the House would provide:

  • Improvements to the Paycheck Protection Program that would provide small businesses and nonprofits with second loans and deliver targeted assistance to the restaurant industry;
  • Enhancements to the new employee retention tax credit, which encourages employers to keep employees on payroll;
  • Requirements for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a strong, enforceable standard within seven days to require all workplaces to develop and implement infection control plans;
  • $436 billion in aid for state and local governments;
  • $225 billion for schools and childcare;
  • $75 billion for testing, contact tracing and other health care efforts;
  • A second round of stimulus checks; and
  • Weekly $600 supplemental Unemployment Insurance benefits through January 2021.