When the pandemic hit and began to devastate the economy, Congress passed a bill to supplement unemployment benefits for people who lost jobs, give aid to business so they could keep meeting payrolls and aid to the airline and travel industries that were most hard hit. Supplemental unemployment benefits ended July 30 and aid for the travel industries expired on Sept. 30. Since that time, Democrats and Republicans have had plenty of time to campaign but haven’t been able to come up with a new relief bill for the largest health crisis in 100 years and the largest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Why?
The first massive relief bill was roughly $3 trillion, by far the biggest spending ever by the federal government. It was needed at a time of unforeseeable crisis but will have to be paid for down the road. Since the pandemic has lasted longer than anyone anticipated, Democrats proposed another $2.9 trillion and Republicans proposed $600 billion, in addition to the money that was unspent from the first legislation (which was estimated around $400 billion, at the time).
Negotiations went back and forth, and as the economy continued to suffer the Chairman of the Federal Reserve urged more relief. Republicans eventually compromised, going from $600 billion to $1.7 trillion. Democrats compromised and came from $2.9 trillion to $2.2 trillion but, in the end, they couldn’t come to an agreement and so Americans continued to suffer. People now had been affected by a worldwide pandemic for seven months, small business people had their life savings wiped out and in October the airlines laid off tens of thousands more workers.
Because they couldn’t get agreement on a new relief package and with unemployment claims continuing at a high rate, Senate Republicans finally said, in effect, “Let’s at least pass what we all agree on and we can come back and finish the rest after the election.” And so they put forward a bill that included what everyone agreed on: supplemental unemployment benefits for people who lost their jobs, renewal of the aid to business who kept people on the payroll, a renewal of loans to the airlines and aid to schools, among some other things.
Nancy Pelosi and Democrats refused to vote for it unless they got the other things they wanted and so, here we are in the middle of November still with no new relief for the largest.
So we are clear what the holdup is and what is keeping critical relief from getting to the American workers and economy, here are the things that Pelosi has insisted on and refused to fund anything else unless it’s included:
–money for the National Endowment for the Arts
–money for the National Endowment for the Humanities
-deferment of immigration enforcement for ‘people in critical jobs’
–mandated immediate release of those being held for illegal immigration if they are not deemed a ‘threat to national security’
–roughly $470 billion to bailout state governments, whether or not they had budget problems before the pandemic and whether or not they are taking action to address their own economic issues
It’s confusing to understand how some of these are related to the pandemic at all but nevertheless, there you have it. Those are the ‘sticking points’ that are so important that Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats in the Senate prioritize getting them over getting relief for unemployed workers and struggling businesses.
At least now we know where the American worker and small business owners stand.