1. House Reconvenes for USPS Vote
Earlier this week, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi recalled members of Congress to Washington, D.C., where the chamber is expected to vote on protections for the United States Postal Service as early as Saturday.
NECA’s Look Ahead: While talks between both chambers and the White House remain ongoing, this vote is an abrupt break to the rarely interrupted August recess. This legislation is unlikely to be passed by the Senate.
2. Senate Introduces New “Skinny” Phase IV Relief Bill
This week, Senate Republicans released an abridged Phase IV relief bill in hopes of restarting negations. The “skinny bill” contains the following provisions:
Liability Reform – Provides necessary liability protections for non-profits, hospitals, churches, schools, and businesses from opportunistic litigation. Individuals and businesses who operate in good faith and follow the guidance of their state or local public health officials will have safe harbor during this unprecedented pandemic.
Education Funding – Includes $105 billion to help get students back to school and provide for the continued learning of all students in elementary, secondary, and higher education.
Testing Funding – Provides $16 billion for testing, contact tracing, mitigation and surveillance of COVID-19 in states.
Vaccine Preparation – Provides $29 billion for vaccine, therapeutics, and diagnostic development, as well as vaccine distribution.
PPP Second Draw – Provides a second draw of PPP loans capped at $2 million for businesses with 300 or fewer employees and revenue losses of 35% or more. The provision uses $100 billion in unobligated funds and approximately $160 billion in new funds.
Unemployment Insurance – In line with the President’s recent executive order, the bill provides a federal plus-up of $300 for pandemic unemployment insurance until December 27, 2020.
USPS Funding – Provides assistance to the postal service by converting the $10 billion loan to USPS in the CARES Act to a grant.
Continuing Resolution – Includes a CR for government funding until December 18, 2020, ensuring Democrats cannot use the threat of a government shutdown as a negotiating tactic before the election.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Although negotiations have officially stalled, this bill represents a great new starting point for when both chambers return in September. Since the August district work period was officially cut short this week for votes on legislation related to the United States Postal Service, this legislation could possibly be used as a vehicle to move the next COVID-19 relief package forward.
3. Democratic National Convention Comes to an End; Republicans on Deck
This week, the Democratic National Convention began virtually. Various leaders in the Democratic Party have been advocating on behalf of Joe Biden and the party’s agenda for the upcoming election. Joe Biden has officially accepted the Democratic nomination for President along with his selected Vice President, Kamala Harris.
NECA’s Look Ahead: On August 21, the Republican National Convention will begin in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Republican Party is projected to announce the re-nomination of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on August 24. The convention business will be taking place largely in person, though the number of attendees has been limited to staff and delegates of the party in order to comply with COVID-19 standards in North Carolina.