WASHINGTON—Yesterday, Senate Democrats, along with one Republican, voted to block the GOP coronavirus relief measure, thus ending hopes for a second stimulus package, the Washington Post reports. The move will likely mean no new economic stimulus bill will be passed before the November elections, despite rumors that the House may attempt to move yet another version in the coming weeks.
The 52-47 vote included Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) voting no; the measure needed 60 yes votes to clear procedural hurdles. The failure comes as Federal Reserve officials have requested more financial assistance to keep the economy afloat. Many benefits under the Cares Act have fizzled out, and extra unemployment benefits expired at the end of July, with many states not participating in the expanded unemployment benefits made available by President Trump’s executive order.
In May, House Democrats approved a $3.4 trillion bill that would continue some of the Cares Act measure and add other initiatives, but the White House and Republicans nixed that measure, citing unexpended funds from the CARES Act still being available and balking at funds for Democrat priorities they claim are not directly coronavirus related. Now, both sides have dug in, and things have reached a stalemate.
The defeated GOP measure included liability protections for businesses, a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program and had earmarked new funds for small businesses, schools and coronavirus testing, plus a $300 weekly unemployment benefit to replace the previous Cares Act $600 weekly benefit. The liability provisions in the bill were taken from Senator John Cornyn’s SAFE to WORK Act, which NACS strongly supports because it would protect businesses from frivolous lawsuits provided they took reasonable efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Notably, the GOP bill didn’t include another stimulus check for individual Americans nor aid to state and local governments, which is a top priority for House Democrats.
Congress needs to move ahead this month to avert a government shutdown when funding expires on Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. Republican and Democrat leaders have reportedly already agreed to move funding legislation separate from any new coronavirus stimulus legislation. Lawmakers are discussing short-term spending bills that would keep existing government spending through the election or possibly into next year.
NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.