Congressional Deadlock Over Virus Aid Continues with No Deal in Sight

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Jul 31, 2020
Lawmakers went home unable to reach an agreement over the next round of coronavirus aid, with Democrats and Republicans remaining far apart on key issues, although the White House has indicated a willingness to move on the matter of employer liability.

Bloomberg said that the latest round of negotiations fell apart after Republicans failed to get Democrats on board for a temporary extension to unemployment benefits and eviction protection while talks continued; Democrats said this would be insufficient without a comprehensive deal, saying a piecemeal solution was not appreciating the gravity of the situation. Because there is no extension or new bill, the extra federal unemployment benefits of $600 a week are scheduled to end today.  Lawmakers will have just one more week to come to an agreement after this one, as the Senate adjourns next Friday. The House won't actually be in session at all next week, but representatives will stand by for recall within 24 hours if a deal is reached and a vote is required.

A major issue for Republican lawmakers is a broad liability shield for employers on pandemic-related suits, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) previously called a red line. However the Washington Post said the White House has signaled that it would be willing to discard that issue to pass a stimulus deal, despite the senators' insistence. Not to say the administration does not want such a shield, but insiders are apparently reporting that it is willing to be flexible on this issue in the service of a larger agreement, deeming it important but not essential. But Sen. McConnell said he would not bring up any legislation for a vote that did not include such protections.

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