15 Oct 2020

COVID-19 Relief Package Negotiations

The NJCA continues to conduct outreach to key members on the Hill to advocate on behalf of Job Corps priorities for the COVID-19 Phase 4 relief package.

Despite weeks of on-and-off negotiations between Secretary Mnuchin and Speaker Pelosi, a deal on another COVID-19 relief package has yet to be reached. Major holdups have been the total price tag, as well as the $600 per week enhanced unemployment benefit, federal funding for state and local governments, and liability protections. 

At the end of last week, President Trump offered Speaker Pelosi a $1.8 trillion package, the Administration’s highest offer thus far. However, he has faced opposition not just from Democrats but from Senate Republicans as well, who consider the package too expensive. Speaker Pelosi has since faced some pressure from members of her caucus to accept this narrower offer rather than waiting any longer for a better deal, but, at this point, there has not been any more progress. 

Since President Trump’s latest proposal, Majority Leader McConnell has announced that the Senate will vote on one more “targeted” relief bill before the election that would include refunding the Paycheck Protection Program. It is very possible such a package would face the same fate as the Senate’s last narrow relief bill, though, which Democrats blocked, arguing that it was insufficient.

The $1.8 trillion proposal came after President Trump created some additional confusion earlier in the week when he tweeted that he had ordered his Administration to stop negotiations on a relief package after Speaker Pelosi rejected Secretary Mnuchin’s $1.6 trillion offer. In his tweet, President Trump added that he would pass another stimulus bill after winning reelection. However, several Republican lawmakers called for President Trump to resume negotiations, including Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). 

Earlier this month, after growing pressure to vote on another package, regardless of a deal with the Administration, the House approved a $2.2 trillion updated Heroes Act. The bill, which includes essential Job Corps policy language that NJCA advocated for, includes $436 billion in state and local government aid and $75 billion for testing and contact tracing. Additionally, the package includes funding to resume the $600 federal unemployment benefits, provide another round of stimulus checks, and offer aid to the airline and restaurant industries. The bill passed mostly along party lines with no House Republicans voting for the package, but it serves as an important messaging bill for House Democrats as they enter the final weeks of their campaigns.