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Negotiations Continue on Government Funding Despite No Additional U.S. COVID Relief

Eric House - Sep 10 2020
Published in: Public Policy
As negotiations ensue over avoiding a U.S. government shutdown, a new version of a previous economic stimulus bill failed to pass in the Senate.

On 3 September, it was announced that Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Department of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin agreed on a clean continuing resolution that would avoid a government shutdown at the end of September. While a deal has not been formally reached, it signals that a continuing resolution is likely coming soon. Meanwhile, the latest round of a COVID stimulus “skinny bill” that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed failed in a Senate cloture vote today, 10 September in an effort to boost the U.S. economy while providing employer liability protections.

Negotiations Over a Continuing Resolution to Avoid a Government Shutdown

Negotiations continue between Pelosi and Mnuchin on a continuing resolution, which is “legislation in the form of a joint resolution enacted by Congress, when the new fiscal year is about to begin or has begun, to provide budget authority for Federal agencies and programs to continue in operation until the regular appropriations acts are enacted.”

Pelosi and Mnuchin have agreed on a clean continuing resolution for FY2021, which could run out as early as mid-December or could run into next year, however negotiations are ongoing. Regardless, avoiding a government shutdown on 1 October ensures that the U.S. economy does not face another hurdle in its efforts to rebound from the pandemic.

A New ‘Skinny’ Version of Previous Stimulus Bill Fails to Pass Senate

While the House of Representatives remains in summer recess until midmonth, the Senate is back in session, recently working on a “skinny” version of its proposed COVID relief economic stimulus package known as the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act. The bill filed by McConnell included liability provisions that are nearly identical to the Safe to Work Act. It included liability limitations Worldwide ERC® supports, including COVID-related personal injury claims against businesses, COVID-related medical malpractice claims, protections from liability under labor and employment laws for businesses that help fight COVID and more. The protections of the bill apply to hospitals healthcare workers, small and large businesses, schools, colleges and universities, religious, philanthropic and other nonprofit institutions, and local government agencies.

Other key provisions in the skinny bill include a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) disbursements to small businesses severely impacted by the pandemic as well as the option for states to continue providing $300 a week in extra unemployment benefits to those who qualified under the CARES Act through 27 December.

Today the Senate held a cloture vote, which is the procedural vote in the Senate that determines if a bill moves forward to the floor for a vote. The cloture vote today failed by 52 to 47 with all Republicans but Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) voting for cloture and all present Democrats voting against it. Senate Democrats have objected to the smaller package than the $2 trillion in relief they are advocating.

Throughout the past few months, Democrats and Republicans have struggled to reach a consensus on a relief package and now face not providing any potential additional COVID-relief until after the election.

How This Impacts Mobility

The continuing resolution is a crucial step in keeping the government from shutting down, which would impact funding for the federal agencies important to mobility, like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which verifies home mortgages. Additionally, as employers and employees remain negatively impacted by the pandemic, relief provided through economic stimulus bills ensure that the workforce can safely and effectively return to work. Without any successful stimulus bill in Congress for months, this negatively impacts many small businesses who might have needed the PPP funding or individuals who might have needed additional PPP funds. Should any member have questions regarding these developments, please reach out to Vice President, Member Engagement and Public Policy Rebecca Peters, rpeters@worldwideerc.org.