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A number of critical COVID-19 economic relief programs will expire at the end of the year, which could force millions off of unemployment insurance, push many small businesses to permanently close, and raise the specter of mass evictions. This could threaten the stability of the US economy as the country enters an uncertain 2021.
In March, during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, easily passed both houses of Congress with bipartisan support, providing a lifeline to recently laid-off employees and businesses that were forced to close due to COVID-related shutdowns.
However, this legislative comity quickly dissipated as the pandemic wore on. The $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, or HEROES Act, which followed the CARES Act, passed in the US House of Representatives in May, but was stymied in the Senate. While Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi championed the bill, GOP Senate Majority Mitch McConnell deemed it as too expensive.
Stimulus gridlock has largely ensued ever since, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin working with Pelosi and McConnell for months with little progress.
Pelosi wants a $2.2 trillion stimulus package, while McConnell has sought a $500 billion plan, but the leaders have not hashed out a compromise. Nor have their staffs worked together to forge any consensus on a potential bill. On November 19, Mnuchin expressed his desire to have $580 billion in unspent stimulus funds redirected to small businesses and to extend unemployment benefits. It is unclear if this will occur, however, as it requires Congressional approval.
“We need this money to go help small businesses that are still closed or hurt, no fault of their own,” Mnuchin said last week. “Or people who are gonna be on unemployment that’s running …read more
Source:: Business Insider