As the U.S. enters its sixth month of grappling with the coronavirus pandemic — with cases soaring and unemployment claims hovering in the millions — USA Congress is again facing a double-barreled dilemma: how to address both the health and economic catastrophes threatening the country.
And in typical Congress fashion, lawmakers have teed up a crunch time crisis this month, giving themselves just a few weeks to wrangle together a massive bipartisan coronavirus relief deal and ship it to President Donald Trump.USA Congress
The month of July, which was already crowded with a slate of must-pass spending and defense bills, now brings even higher stakes, with the two parties still far apart on how Washington should approach the twin emergencies just four months before the presidential election.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said “of course” Thursday when asked whether Congress can pull a massive relief bill together in the coming weeks.
“First of all, I’m not leaving for two weeks,” Pelosi told reporters of the upcoming Independence Day holiday.
“They’ve made their overtures,” she added of Republicans. “They also have said publicly ‘this or that’ should be in the next bill. So we anticipate we will have a bill.”
House Democrats passed their coronavirus relief bill nearly two months ago — a roughly $3 trillion measure that Senate Republicans have ignored. With both chambers gone for a two-week recess until mid-July, lawmakers will return with just 11 days to renew an unemployment fund Democrats say is desperately needed for the millions out of work.
Republicans, who primarily don’t support renewing the unemployment program, dismiss July 31 as an artificial deadline. But they, too, acknowledge it’s time for Washington again to step in. The last coronavirus aid package was signed into law in late April and since then, the number of Americans diagnosed with the virus has soared, as many states that attempted to reopen their economies have seen dramatic spikes.
Not to mention lawmakers in both parties are staring down another annual Washington deadline that usually motivates them to act quickly: the monthlong August recess. Read more