Congress Recesses Without Passing New COVID Relief

Both the U.S. House and Senate are now in recess, which means Congress is increasingly unlikely to pass legislation before the November elections to provide additional relief to individuals or businesses suffering due to COVID-19. At the time of this writing, the House stands in recess until after the elections, and the Senate is in recess until further notice, due to a COVID outbreak among Senators.

On Oct. 1, the House passed a bill along party lines that would have provided $2.2 trillion in coronavirus relief. The House Democrats’ bill is a pared-down version of its $3.4 trillion relief package passed in May. The pared-down bill would have restored the $600-per-week increase in jobless benefits, delivered another round of direct stimulus checks, and provided funding to state and local governments, schools, and nutritional programs.

The House could be recalled if there is a breakthrough in talks between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, which are ongoing. The bill was approved without a GOP vote. Pelosi and Mnuchin spent all last week trying to negotiate an agreement, but those negotiations ultimately failed.

PIA National continues to advocate for improvements to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), despite the Congressional stalemate on a more comprehensive package. That effort was bolstered last week, when Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) brought PIA-supported legislation to streamline the PPP loan forgiveness process for small business owners to the Senate floor and tried to get it passed by unanimous consent. Another senator objected, thus preventing the passage of the bipartisan bill, but this action shows that Senator Cramer and PIA are serious about reforming the PPP.  

In the absence of an agreement on a larger legislative package, we will continue to urge that this bill, as well as other virus relief legislation, pass as a standalone measure.