The House Is Already Working on the Next Bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has previewed Democratic priorities for the next coronavirus (COVID-19) relief package, including aid for state and local governments, additional funding for safety-net programs and healthcare providers, and extending the loan forgiveness period of the Paycheck Protection Program. House leadership has hinted that a bill could come to the floor as early as this week, though with the House still formally out of session, next week is more likely. Crafting such a sweeping package will likely require members to return to Washington, which many lawmakers remain hesitant to do as COVID-19 cases in the DC area continue to rise.
Meanwhile, in the Senate… Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), along with three of the four witnesses, will be participating in Tuesday’s hearing remotely after possible exposure to COVID-19, highlighting the ongoing challenge lawmakers and the rest of the country are facing. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has stressed the need to thoroughly evaluate what Congress has already done before moving on to the next package. Many Republicans are starting to get anxious about relief spending in the trillions of dollars. For the chamber to act on additional emergency funding, those provisions will have to be coupled with policies aimed at getting the economy back up and running. The policy focus in the Senate is liability protection for businesses as people return to work, something Democrats remain wary of. What a final deal looks like will depend on what the House produces. Is that bill a starting point for negotiations or a wish list put in writing for messaging purposes? It will also depend on the rapidly changing circumstances. With the Memorial Day recess coming up, it is unlikely Congress will be voting on the next package before June. What the country looks like in June will be a determining factor in what can pass.
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