AUGUST 21 FEDERAL UPDATE
COVID-19 Relief Package Update
Negotiations for another COVID relief package remain stalled on the hill. President Trump released four executive actions that have no real implications for families in most states outside of postponing payments and waiving interest on federal student loans through December. The Department of Housing and Urban Development extended a ban on evictions and foreclosures for FHA funded mortgages. You may recall that the CARES Act relief package also included mortgages supported by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but those mortgages are not protected in this extension. We do not know when the ban on evictions and foreclosures will go into effect. Some states have also decided to try to implement the $300/week supplemental payment for the unemployed using disaster relief funds, but it is not clear how soon they can get these payments out the door.
This week, Senate Republicans circulated a $487 billion “Skinny Bill” draft that offers less than half of McConnell’s $1 trillion HEALS Act, essentially pulling back on what was already a very small proposal that does not meet families’ needs. McConnell wants a bill to pass with 51 Republican votes; he will not get that for the HEALS Act. This puts McConnell in a challenging position as some Republicans do not want to vote for a bill with more relief funding, some want a narrower bill, and some are receiving pressure to do something to ensure they will be re-elected.
Note that the House bill was worth about $3 trillion. Pelosi was willing to negotiate a package closer to $2 trillion, but this proposed “skinny” bill is a non-starter for Democrats in both chambers.
The House is coming back into session on Saturday to discuss the U.S. Postal Service and vote on the Delivering for America Act (introduced by Rep. Maloney) which would provide the U.S. Postal Service with $25 billion. The bill would address revenue losses as well as discontinue and roll back harmful operational changes that were implemented.
Republicans have indicated that they will not pass a bill that only addresses the postal service. They could potentially include a postal service provision in the skinny relief package and pass it separately. However, it is more likely that they will try to include the “skinny bill” into a Continuing Resolution to keep the government running when the fiscal year ends at the end of September to force Democrats to vote for this very limited relief to avoid a government shutdown.
Currently, the Skinny Relief Bill includes $105 billion for K-12 and higher education institutions, $29 billion for vaccine and drug development, $16 billion for contact tracing and testing, $300 weekly unemployment insurance benefits through December 27, $158 billion for the PPP program, $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service, and funding for liability protection. It has no funds for nutrition, child care, housing assistance, and state or local funding.
Now is the time to continue to reach out to your federal delegation, especially if you have a Republican Senator, to inform them that this narrow relief bill is unacceptable for the millions of families and children who need support now for food, child care, rental assistance, and economic relief. You can pull state data on how families were doing in July here: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/household-pulse-survey/data.html
We will let you know when the next Census Household Pulse survey results are released in late August so you can show your delegation how families are faring now that the unemployment supplement has ended.
Partnership for America’s Children