Aindriu Colgan | NSWA Vice President, Governmental Affairs
House Democrats and Senate Republicans remain far apart on a promised compromise relief package ahead of the August recess. Early last week, Senate Republicans released a $1 trillion proposal, which was swiftly condemned by House Democrats who previously passed a $3.5 trillion relief package. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows have met with Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer several times over the past week to no avail.
Two of the most contentious issues include the now-expired $600 supplemental unemployment insurance payments and liability protections. With the national unemployment rate stuck over 10 percent and threatening to go higher, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats insist that those supplemental payments continue, while Senate Republicans and the White House argue that they are discouraging people from going back to work. At the same time, Leader McConnell has made it clear that he will not accept any negotiated relief package that does not include robust liability protections for businesses that reopen safely, something that labor groups, trial lawyers, and much of the House and Senate Democratic conference oppose. Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leaders Schumer have stated plainly that there will be no deal until Majority Leader McConnell backs down.
We can also expect progressive Democrats to again try using this relief package to block fossil fuel companies from accessing any new or existing relief programs. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN and Nanette Barragán (D-CA) just introduced legislation to scrap all federal coronavirus stimulus funds, tax incentives, and research dollars for fossil fuel companies. NSWA will continue to work with its allies in the Capitol to ensure that this does not happen.