Negotiations between House and Senate leaders and the White House on the next coronavirus relief package have yet to yield much progress. The goal is to come to an agreement on major issues by Friday (tomorrow), but both sides remain far apart on fundamental matters.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Wednesday there likely will not be a deal on a coronavirus relief package if negotiators cannot reach an agreement by Friday. "I think at this point we’re either going to get serious about negotiating and get an agreement in principle or I've become extremely doubtful that we’ll be able to make a deal if it goes well beyond Friday," Meadows said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is slightly more optimistic but says the White House needs to go further. In floor remarks yesterday Schumer said, “While we have started to generate some forward momentum, we need our partners in the White House to go much further on a number of issues.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also remains optimistic but recognizes a deal is still well out of reach: “I feel optimistic that there is light at the end of the tunnel,” she told reporters Wednesday. “But how long the tunnel is remains to be seen.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced the Senate will remain in session next week rather than adjourning for the August recess as negotiations continue.
If a deal is not reached soon, the White House has signaled it is will use executive action to address several outstanding issues. As Politico reports, “The three actions under consideration would delay the collection of federal payroll taxes, reinstitute an expired eviction moratorium, and in the riskiest gambit of them all, extend enhanced federal unemployment benefits using unspent money already appropriated by Congress.”
With House and the Senate schedules slowing down as the August recess nears, legislative activity will also begin to decrease but it will likely rebound come early September.
Administration. HHS and DOD announced an agreement with Johnson & Johnson to demonstrate large-scale manufacturing and delivery of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
DOL’s Wage and Hour Division is hosting a free webinar today, August 6 to help employers and employees understand the benefits and protections provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The webinar will focus on FFRCRA requirements, including workers’ eligibility for paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, and other current employment topics.
The Treasury Department published a report showing costs incurred by and relief payments made to recipient state and local government through June 30. The National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), and the National Governors’ Association expressed concern the Treasury report noted above presents an incomplete picture of how state and local government relief recipients have budgeted relief funds. NASBO reports states and localities have allocated nearly 75% of relief funds. NCSL’s statement notes, “The economic impact of the coronavirus recession varies by state; however, every state is coping with revenue shortfalls. And more than half the states, from all parts of the nation, are looking at severe budget problems that will certainly lead to dramatic cuts in critical services.”