After months of infighting between Democrats and failed GOP proposals, a promising coronavirus relief deal that was thought to be the final solution could be about to fall apart, Fox Business reports.
After months of inaction, it appeared as though Congress, before going on break for the holidays, was getting ready to pass a $908 billion coronavirus relief deal. But, according to Fox, there are “sticking points” on both sides that could cause the whole thing to be called off.
The same old problems
The two issues that could prevent the deal from going through are the same two issues that have hindered progress for months now. For Republicans, it is the Democrats’ demand for what GOP lawmakers have referred to as a “blue-state bailout.”
Congressional Democrats have long called for a coronavirus relief deal to include funding that would disproportionately go to states with Democratic leadership. Republicans have argued that the reason these states have struggled is poor management and that this poor management ought not to be rewarded with a bailout.
Democrats, on the other hand, have taken issue with the Republicans’ call for a coronavirus relief deal to include a liability shield for businesses. Republicans believe that it would help businesses, and thus the economy, if employers were to be shielded from lawsuits that could be brought by their employees for coronavirus-related injuries.
According to Fox, Democrats, however, have argued that such a liability shield ought not to be included because it “could make businesses too lax in protecting their employees from the virus.”
These two issues are going to have to be worked out if Congress is going to pass another coronavirus relief deal.
The most recent coronavirus relief deal was introduced just last week by a bipartisan group of legislators. At $908 billion it is both more than the Senate Republicans’ $500 billion offer and less than the Democrats’ multi-trillion dollar offers.
According to reports, the bill would include $288 billion in small business aid, $160 billion in state and local government relief, $180 billion for extended unemployment benefits, $82 billion for education, $45 billion for transportation, and $16 billion for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and vaccine distribution. It will not, however, include another round of $1,200 stimulus checks.
Democratic leadership – both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) – have endorsed the deal. In the process of doing so, they have more or less admitted that they held off making a deal in order to hurt President Donald Trump in the election.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), even, has recently called Democratic leadership out for this, pointing out how silly it looks that the Democrats are now willing to agree to a $908 billion offer after previously having rejected a $1.8 trillion offer from the White House.
It is still unclear if Republican leadership supports the $908 billion bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has neither explicitly accepted nor rejected it, but he has called for his own $500 billion bill to be passed instead. He further stated on Tuesday that the “way forward” is to “set aside liability and set aside state and local and pass those things that we can agree on, knowing full well we’ll be back at this after the first of the year.”