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COVID-19 Relief Bill Stalls: Lack of negotiations in Congress leaves citizens without stimulus money.

As the impending November election draws nearer and the number of U.S. COVID-19 cases continues to rise, it has become even more necessary for an agreement to be made about the Coronavirus Relief Bill. The updated Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act originated in the House of Representatives in September. It is intended to reflect the Democrat’s original HEROES Act
from May earlier this year that was unable to advance due to opposition from the Republican representatives. The current bill stands at $2.2 trillion yet is being opposed by the Republicans due to this high cost. Negotiations around the bill have been transpiring for months.

According to congress.gov, “This bill responds to the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses.” Among other things, proposed components will provide a stimulus package of up to $1200 per individual, modify and expand the Paycheck Protection Program, provide funding for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, and expand sick days, family and medical leave, unemployment compensation, nutrition and food assistance programs, housing programs, and payments to farmers. The proposed bill would be beneficial to many jobless persons, low- and middle-class families, those struggling with childcare, and food-insecure families relying on food assistance programs. In addition, the HEROES Act would modify or expand a wide range of programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, health insurance, immigration, student loans and financial aid, prisons, the U.S. Postal Service, and federal elections.

Currently, the bill is being held at a stand-still by the primarily Republican-led Senate, largely because of cost. This sentiment was echoed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who stated, “My members think half a trillion dollars, highly targeted, is the best way to go.” Despite this statement, President Trump blamed Nancy Pelosi for the delay in a tweet on Thursday, Oct. 15. He wrote, “Pelosi is holding up STIMULUS, not the Republicans!” He has also requested that Congress “go big or go home” for COVID-19 legislation and told Fox Business that he would go above $1.8 trillion for a final deal. In addition,
he claimed that such a large bill would garner support from the Republicans. Contrary to this, Pelosi sent a letter to her Democratic colleagues in which she included, “We must come to an agreement as soon as possible, but not before we are truly helping the people without accommodating the Republicans’ surrender to the virus.”

Despite the contrasting ideas on how the relief bill should be passed, it is clear that both the Democrats and the Republicans see a need for this aid. With unemployment levels rising, continued small business closures, and the increase in COVID-19 hotspots, the spotlight is on Congress to come to an agreement.

Sources: congress.gov

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