(FreedomJournal.org)- While negotiations for the next stimulus package are expected to ramp up this week, the fight could prove to be a long one as the parties seem far apart.
With Congress returning from its summer recess on Monday, Republicans are set to begin crafting their version of the next economic stimulus package. To this point, though, there have been no direct discussions between Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Pelosi has continued to push the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion package that passed in the House back in May. But McConnell almost immediately shot down the possibility of a package that broad and expensive, and President Donald Trump has threatened to veto such a bill.
McConnell said he would likely write the next bill on his own, and his version is likely to total closer to $1 trillion. Democrats in the Senate, including Minority Leader Chuch Schumer, said he’d only engage in negotiations if McConnell included his party in the talks.
The Senate’s version of the bill is likely to be announced sometime early this week, as long as Republicans back what McConnell writes. While the details of what will be included are murky at this point, one thing he has insisted upon is liability protection.
“Nobody should have to face an epidemic of lawsuits on the heels of the pandemic we already have related to the coronavirus,” he said.
A spokesperson for Trump said the president is pushing for a payroll tax cut in the next bill. On Sunday, Trump himself said he’d consider using his veto power if the bill didn’t have such a measure in it.
For her part, Pelosi insisted that much more aid is needed than $1 trillion.
“If we don’t put money in the pockets of the American people with their direct payments and unemployment insurance, it will be much worse,” she said last week.
The goal of both parties is to craft and pass a bill that can be sent to Trump before the August recess starts. Pelosi said she’d “absolutely” delay the House recess if something isn’t in place by then.
One of the biggest sticking points between Democrats and Republicans in these negotiations could be more direct payments to Americans and continued unemployment assistance. The federal boost to unemployment that adds $600 each week to normal state benefits is set to expire at the end of July.
While Republicans have said they also believe states will need assistance in continuing to pay unemployment benefits, he is strongly against the added boost. McConnell has repeatedly said that is a disincentive for people to return to work, since it results in many making more on unemployment than they did, or would, through their job.
Democrats also insist that Americans need more direct payments to help them get through these tough times. While Republicans have seem receptive to such an idea, it’s unclear whether they’d be willing to match the same $1,200 per individual as last time, and whether they’d prefer to reduce the income threshold for people to qualify.