President Trump and Republican leaders are banking on states lifting COVID-19 restrictions to propel economic recovery and ease pressure for another round of legislative stimulus.
Since passing the CARES Act in March, congressional Republicans have wanted to pause on another coronavirus relief package to gauge the impact of existing relief measures. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) conceded that more relief may be necessary at some point, but assured House Republicans this week that any negotiated end-product would not look like the $3 trillion HEROES Act that passed the House last week.
“There is only one way out of this dilemma,” McConnell said after a lunch meeting between Trump and Republican senators yesterday. “America has to grow again, to open up again, and I am pleased that is beginning to happen in my state and other states.”
The dim prospects for the HEROES Act in the Senate are impactful for associations that were left out of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) created by the CARES Act. ASAE and its member advocates have spent weeks urging Congress to provide specific relief through the PPP for associations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the HEROES Act, any 501(c) entity with 500 or fewer employees would be able to apply for PPP funds. The bill also extends the covered period for PPP loans to December 31, 2020, and PPP loans could be stretched over 24 weeks instead of the eight weeks established by the CARES Act.
While support for 501(c)(6) inclusion in the PPP is bipartisan, other provisions in the HEROES Act are not endorsed by congressional Republicans. McConnell is insistent on liability reform in the next round of COVID legislation to protect businesses from trial lawyer “vultures” and he said Republicans are “going to have to clean up the Democrats’ crazy policy that is paying people more to remain unemployed than they would earn if they went back to work.” He vowed the $600 boost in weekly unemployment benefits enacted as part of the CARES Act would not be extended.
Senate Democrats criticized McConnell for delaying consideration of additional COVID relief. “How much will the Republican pause cost the American economy?,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told reporters.