Pandemic relief tops most every wish list in Washington approaching end of 2020

The clock is ticking on 2020 as Congress continues to discuss stimulus packages that potentially would renew or extend much-needed federal aid for Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act, which was approved by Congress in March, established several critical programs and funding streams that are set to expire on December 31, 2020.

Key members from both parties in the U.S. House and Senate have rolled out a variety of proposals this week with hopes to get some sort of relief package passed before Congress adjourns for the year on Dec. 21. As if that weren’t enough of a challenge in itself, lawmakers also must pass a spending bill by Dec. 11 to avoid a government shutdown.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday mentioned a proposal from her and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that was submitted to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Monday.

McConnell released details of his own proposal Tuesday, which included repurposing unspent CARES Act funding for small business relief, liability limitations for COVID-related personal injury claims against businesses, and continuing of the Paycheck Protection Program, among several other provisions.

In addition to Pelosi and McConnell discussing their respective plans for relief Tuesday, a bipartisan group of Senate members rolled out yet another package which seemingly attempts to forge compromise between Republicans and Democrats on several contentious economic issues.

Key components of the bipartisan proposal include compromises on an extension of federal unemployment benefits, added funding for state and local governments, a temporary moratorium on some coronavirus-related lawsuits against businesses, and more funding for small businesses, schools, health care, transit authorities and student loans, among other measures.

McConnell shot down the bipartisan proposal rather quickly, suggesting that President Trump would not sign the measure, which is needed for the bill to pass.

Whether an agreement will be reached before the year remains to be seen, but the heat is being turned up on members of both parties in the coming weeks as COVID cases and unemployment numbers continue to rise.

Stay tuned to The Bottom Line for more updates.

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