The Hill Heats Back Up

The Senate returns today to a lengthy list of unfinished business with the planned start of the August recess just three weeks away. It’s possible the coming work period could be the last sustained burst of legislative action before the election.  

First up is the next COVID relief package. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he soon plans to unveil the Republican counter proposal to the Democrats’ HEROES Act passed in mid-May. 

Also potentially subject to negotiations are racial inequalities, disparities related to unemployment rates and stimulus payments that have been ignored or exacerbated by previous relief efforts.

While it’s unclear how the McConnell proposal will address race and justice concerns, the HEROES Act contains a number of provisions to help the Black community address these disparities as well as investing in testing, election funding and community institutions. 

Senate Democrats have also released the Economic Justice Act, a $350 billion proposal to address immediate and longer-term systemic racism and historic underinvestment in communities of color. Immediate relief for communities of color responding to the pandemic is provided through a $135 billion investment in childcare, mental health and primary care, and jobs.

Over the longer term, the proposal would help build long lasting wealth and health in these communities by investing $215 billion over the next five years.