U.S. Senate Democrats Block GOP COVID-19 Relief Bill
Last Thursday, U.S. Senate Democrats blocked the GOP’s $500 billion COVID-19 relief package that included liability protections for employers, restored expired unemployment benefits, and provided additional funding for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) among other provisions.
Unfortunately, however, the bill did not receive the 60 votes needed to advance the bill. Continual disagreements between Republicans and Democrats over a potential fourth and final COVID-19 relief bill likely means that a relief deal may not be reached before the November elections.
More than likely, Congress will resort to approving a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government funded past the November election. Federal government spending authority expires on September 30.
Meanwhile, in response to health pandemic’s negative effect on transportation projects and funding, a group of 88 trade associations sent a letter to Congressional leadership on Wednesday urging for there to be a one-year extension of current surface transportation law with increased funding levels.
The letter also urges Congress to pass legislation that would provide funding for state transportation and public transit agencies, in addition to ensuring solvency of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF).
Congress is ultimately expected to extend surface transportation authorization, which is set to expire on September 30, into next year.
Congress is punting on transportation reauthorization because many believe there will be a “blue wave” and Democrats will regain control of the Senate and the White House, therefore allowing them to pass their own bill without having to compromise with Republicans.
Further, lawmakers are more focused on COVID-19 related legislation and securing relief funding.