A Fraught Landscape As Congress Seeks Relief

The stakes are high for the next coronavirus relief package, which is likely to be the last before Americans go to the polls

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell signaled this week he intends to move forward on the next round of coronavirus relief efforts at or around July 20–when Congress returns from its July 4 recess– with the release of a Senate Republican proposal. Both McConnell and a Trump administration official recently indicated $1 trillion remains the target for this next package, and they want negotiations wrapped before Congress leaves for recess August 10.

McConnell has provided some hints about what the proposal could include:

  • “Narrowly crafted” liability protections that only apply to coronavirus for businesses, health care providers and others
  • Getting kids back to school
  • A focus on jobs, which some have interpreted as a temporary bonus for workers returning to their workplaces
  • Health care

Will the next bill follow the CARES Act dynamic, when Democrats–with the White House’s active support–pushed the last $1 trillion proposal from McConnell north of $2 trillion? Since the CARES Act passed in late March, three things have happened:

  • The economic slide appears to have slowed
  • The coronavirus curve has ticked up, with record highs and slowed state reopenings; and
  • President Trump’s polling numbers have declined significantly.

The path of the virus the next several weeks and its impact on the economic recovery could play a big role in determining Trump’s attitude on the next package as well as its size and composition.