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August 24, 2020

U.S. Senate Republicans Offer Slimmed Down COVID Relief Bill

Federal lawmakers are in recess currently and negotiations between Republicans and Democrats on the next COVID-19 relief package remain at a deadlock, but last week Senate Republicans introduced a slimmed down relief bill.

As the National Association of Counties explains, the $500 billion piece of legislation provides aid to American families and businesses by:

  • Offering liability protections for employers, schools, and health care providers to discourage lawsuits related to COVID-19;
  • Allowing eligible small businesses to draw down loans once again from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) established under the CARES Act;
  • Providing $300 weekly enhanced unemployment benefits instead of the $200 in additional benefits Republicans previously proposed;
  • Earmarking $16 billion for COVID-19 testing and $29 billion for the development of COVID-19 medical countermeasures and vaccines; and
  • Providing $10 billion in funding for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to ensure operations are strong going into the 2020 election.

The legislation does not call for general aid to state and local governments, a key provision supported by congressional Democrats. As a result, Democrats are expected to reject this legislation, which means negotiations on the next COVID relief bill could last well into September.

In the meantime, the business community has kept up its calls for Congress to act.

Last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a new “Cost of Inaction” campaign that attempts to quantify and humanize the impact being had on Americans as Congress and the Trump administration fail to provide additional economic relief to individuals, families, businesses, and states impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to access the campaign.