What’s New: The Senate Republicans released a $1 trillion plan to address relief related to the coronavirus. Progressives said the bill fell flat (especially with it falling short to help communities of color) and now comes the fun part with a few weeks of bipartisan negotiations on what is just an opening offer. Negotiations are taking place between White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Important to remember that Meadows is a former leader of the House Freedom Caucus and their support will be vital to getting any package over the finish line. Of note is new money for testing and vaccines, additional flexibility for state and local aid and less than $600 per week in unemployment insurance.
What's in it for Hospitals and Health Care Industry?
As the hospital industry asked for $100 billion, the HEALS Act only had a $25 billion boost to a hospital bailout fund. The bill also doesn't have any funds for Medicaid but does include $16 billion to help states ramp up tests and contact tracing.
What's in it for Education?
The bill ties two-thirds of K-12 aid to school reopening and includes money for private schools, tax credit scholarships. The latter will be a lightning rod for Democrats and their allies in the teacher's union. The bill provides $105 billion to education with $70 billion going to elementary, middle and high schools and $29 billion for colleges and universities.
What's in it for Business?
There will be more money for PPP and liability protections for business (which was McConnell's red-line). The latter will be a tough pill to swallow for Democrats who rely on campaign contributions of plaintiff attorneys (aka trial lawyers). The bill also includes covering companies on testing, personal protective equipment, workplace cleaning and retrofitting facilities to adhere to distancing guidelines.
What's in it for the Military?
$30 billion in total with $8 billion going to new ships, planes and programs to support the defense industrial base.
Please find summaries below of select provisions of the HEALS Act, Phase IV legislation from Senate Republicans.
As a reminder, this release is expected to jumpstart negotiations with the White House and congressional leadership, beginning tonight. Much remains to be negotiated, including state relief.
Yes, but: Republicans still have work to do among their own ranks. Several Republican Senators have expressed concerns about the bill, including a White House provision for funding a new FBI headquarters in downtown Washington. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he wants that and other “non-germane” items will be removed from the legislation before it’s sent to President Trump’s desk. “I am opposed to non-germane amendments, whether it’s funding for the FBI building or, for example, in the House bill, whether it’s a tax cut for high-income earners in blue states or other non-germane amendments in the House bill like marijuana studies or aid to illegal immigrants,” McConnell told reporters after GOP senators met for lunch with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who are involved in negotiations with congressional Democrats on the COVID-19 package.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) told reporters that Mnuchin and Meadows, the lead White House negotiators, pressed GOP senators to include the FBI funding in the bill. (The Hill)