coronavirus relief
March 29, 2020

Congress has completed three phases of its economic recovery plan as the United States reckons with the novel coronavirus pandemic, but not everyone is confident the momentum that carried the legislative branch through the previous rounds will last long enough for number four.

Per The Wall Street Journal, big spending bills often fill members of Congress with doubts, and this one may be no different. "My guess is that this bill won't wear well over time, and Congress isn't going to be inclined to do another big package," Andy Laperriere, a policy analyst for investor advisory firm Cornerstone Macro, told the Journal. "There will be fraud, companies getting money going into bankruptcy, things that people on the left and right won't like."

Stephen Moore, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, doesn't think there will be much bipartisanship going forward, even if it's based on mutual disappointment. He says the next round of debates over new spending will re-open ideological splits. "The left is going to want to do infrastructure, welfare payments, and food stamps," he said. "Our side will want to do tax cuts and deregulation."

Despite such pessimism, lawmakers and Trump administration officials, as well as lobbyists, economists, and think tanks, are already back at working trying to set the framework for the next stage, as all sides look to once again find some sort of common ground. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Tim O'Donnell

March 25, 2020

Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said Wednesday they may oppose fast-tracking the Senate's coronavirus stimulus package because they fear that it could incentivize layoffs, as well as entice people to quit their jobs because they could make actually make more money from the enhanced unemployment insurance.

The argument angered some people, like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is threatening to hold up the bill until there are stronger protections from workers unless the GOP senators drop their objections. But others were left scratching their heads.

People are typically only eligible for unemployment benefits if they lose their jobs through no fault of their own. There are exceptions, of course, but generally speaking people who quit would need to show they had "good cause" for doing so to qualify for financial assistance. Tim O'Donnell

March 24, 2020

Although it's looking more and more like it will get done soon, Republicans have pointed the finger at Democrats for holding up the Senate's coronavirus stimulus package the last few days.

But President Trump said Tuesday that he's the one who nixed negotiations Monday night.

It's unclear precisely what role Trump played in blowing up negotiations, if indeed there was one, but he said he turned against it after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) presented the House's own bill. Trump argued it included "Green New Deal stuff" and other provisions that didn't have anything to do "with the workers," but were more geared toward getting a long-hoped-for Democratic agenda passed.

The president was, as is often the case, apparently particularly upset about the package's mention of windmills. Tim O'Donnell

March 21, 2020

There's no rest for the Senate this weekend, as lawmakers are set to dig in for a weekend session beginning at noon Saturday so the chamber can expedite an agreement on a stimulus package to provide relief from the coronavirus pandemic. The final bill could reportedly cost at least $1 trillion.

Negotiators said they're getting closer to an agreement, but they missed the original Friday night deadline set by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) after haggling for about 12 hours over issues like increased unemployment insurance payments, financial assistance for hospitals and health-care providers, and funds to cover for state governments' revenue shortfalls, Politico reports. But Congress remains under pressure to get something done quickly, and Republicans — who hold the majority — reportedly believe Democrats won't block any rescue bill with time running short.

Eric Ueland, the White House director of legislative affairs, is optimistic consensus is right around the corner. He singled out the debate over unemployment as an area where "tremendous" progress has been made thanks to bipartisan support for rebate checks. Read more at The Hill and Politico. Tim O'Donnell

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