What is the Fate of the COVID-19 Relief Package?
WILL WE SEE ANOTHER COVID-19 STIMULUS PACKAGE? That is the key question as we begin this week. Over the weekend, President Trump issued four executive actions to cut payroll taxes to the end of the year, extend unemployment benefits at a reduced rate of $400, renew a moratorium on evictions during the pandemic, and defer student loan payments and interest until the end of the year. The move was quickly criticized by Democrats and by some Republicans as unconstitutional. Democrats have also stated that it is inadequate to address the needs of the nation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The executive actions do not address funding for state and local governments and schools and do not include healthcare specific measures.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR CONGRESS? What remains unclear is how congressional negotiators get back together in the next few days to make a deal after this new action. Republicans believe that the action from the President shows that they are willing to make a deal on the stimulus package and address key issues but blame the Democrats for not compromising. Republicans can also let the Democrats take legal action to stop the executive actions and make the case that Democrats are stopping individuals from obtaining needed support. Democrats on the other hand do not have much of an incentive to cut a deal with Republicans. Polling numbers are on their side, and the optics of Democrats compromising with the President are challenging within the party. What is also unclear is how quickly Democrats and state governments can take legal action to effectively stop the executive action the President has taken. Nevertheless, if a deal does not come together in the next few days, it is likely that Congress will then break for the rest of August and we won’t see action on another large legislative vehicle until the fall, specifically the end of the fiscal year when the government needs to be funded again.
PROVIDER RELIEF FUND PORTALS OPENING THIS WEEK. This week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is expected to open Provider Relief Fund (PRF) portals for providers that missed the second tranche of General Distribution funding and providers that had a change in ownership in 2020 making them ineligible for previous General Distribution funding. We will be watching how HHS ensures that providers cannot “double dip” with these new portals opening, and if the application process differs from previous PRF applications.
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