Senate Leadership Reveals Outline of Next Relief Package Proposal

Senate leadership plans to unveil their opening bid for the next round of economic aid this week, which is expected to include providing continued unemployment insurance subsidies, tax incentives for employers to avoid layoffs and encourage rehiring, and a new round of checks and direct payments sent by the IRS.

The proposal will resemble much of the CARES Act, but it is not expected to include a new round of direct aid to state and local governments, or the full $600 per week unemployment subsidy provided by that legislation. House leaders have made aid to local governments and unemployment subsidies major priorities for the next phase of aid.

A payroll tax cut is also expected in the legislation despite initial resistance from both Democrats and Republicans. There has been little support in Congress for the idea, in large part because its impact would be blunted by the millions of unemployed U.S. workers no longer on payrolls. However, it has been a priority of the President for weeks.

The Senate plan is to include some level of unemployment subsidy and to allow more flexibility for use of remaining state aid funds provided by the CARES Act. The proposal is not expected to include additional appropriations in an effort to keep the total cost below $1 trillion.

House Readies First Spending Vote for Fiscal Year 2021

House members plan to vote this week on their first fiscal year 2021 spending package, a four-bill “minibus” that would require the administration resume sending funds to the World Health Organization, among other policy changes. The legislation includes the Agriculture-FDA, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-VA, and State and Foreign Operations appropriations bills.

Members have until this afternoon to submit amendments to the Rules Committee, which will meet in the next few days to agree to a rule for consideration of the package on the floor Thursday and Friday. Next week, House lawmakers will take up a second package of spending bills, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer recently told lawmakers, without identifying which bills would be included.

Secretary Mnuchin Says Government Should Weigh Forgiving Small PPP Loans

The federal government should weigh forgiving all small loans provided under the Paycheck Protection Program during the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said before a House committee last week. “We should consider forgiving all small loans, but would need fraud protection,” Mnuchin told the House Small Business Committee last Friday.

The government has approved more than 4.9 million PPP loans totaling $518.1 billion, as of July 16. Secretary Mnuchin did not specify what he considers a “small” loan that could be forgiven, and said that “some level of reporting in a simple way is important.”

“We have complete agreement there should be a second check available to the businesses that are hardest hit, and there should be requirements around that,” Mnuchin told the committee. He singled out restaurants, hotels, and other travel and hospitality businesses as needing more help.

Also on Friday, former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told a separate House panel that she is “tremendously concerned” about the possible economic ramifications of Congress allowing extended federal unemployment insurance benefits to lapse.

Minnesota Delegation Notes

  • Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) joined Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to introduce the Emergency Housing Assistance for Older Adults Act, which would provide $1.2 billion in funding to ensure that senior housing facilities have the necessary resources to effectively protect residents during the pandemic. Read more here.
  • Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and 12 of her Senate colleagues submitted a comment letter in response the Department of Labor’s proposed rule that would discourage financial advisors from considering environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria. Read more here.
  • Congressman Jim Hagedorn (R-MN-01) was presented the 2020 Champion for Healthy Seniors Award by the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD). Read more here.
  • Congresswoman Angie Craig (D-MN-02) and Congressman Pete Stauber (R-MN-08) introduced a bill, theStop Coronavirus Scams Act, in an effort to reduce the rising number of scams occurring through telemarketing calls, text messages, and social media during the pandemic. Read more here.
  • Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN-03) promoted mnvotes.org in an effort to get Minnesotans to make a plan to safely vote in the coming elections. Read more here.
  • Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN-04) and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) added report language in the FY 2021 appropriations bills that would open the door for federal funding for the Twin Cities in the next fiscal year to fund critical investments intended to rebuild neighborhoods that are confronting economic and racial inequality. Read more here.
  • Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN-06) and Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL-13) co-led a letter to House leadership advocating for targeted support for both home-based and center-based child care providers. Read more here.
  • Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN-07) and Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN-02) introduced legislation to provide American businesses and manufacturers another year of relief from Section 301 tariffs by extending product exclusions currently in effect. Read more here.