GOP, Dems at impasse over fifth round of coronavirus relief

WWL Newsroom
July 31, 2020 - 7:15 am

Congressional negotiations are underway over the fifth round of coronavirus relief, with Democrats and Republicans presenting widely different opening offers.

Democrats want to see the expiring 600 dollar a week federal unemployment benefit extended through the year. Republicans balked at that, and Senator John Kennedy explains why.

“No fair-minded person wants to design an unemployment insurance program where someone is paid more to stay at home than they are to go to work. That is what we have right now and it is not going to be extended,” says Kennedy.

Kennedy backs some form of extension that would guarantee unemployment payments are lower than a person’s pay at their previous job.

Democrats back the expansive three trillion dollar HEROES Act while Republicans want the slimmer, trillion-dollar HEALS Act. Kennedy says both proposals feature a lot of “spending porn.”

“We need to design a second bill that is very targeted, it has got to help small business; it cannot be abused by larger businesses that have access to other forms of capital,” says Kennedy.

Kennedy notes the Congress has sent roughly 23 billion dollars to Louisiana since the pandemic began.

Democrats want negotiations on one omnibus bill that covers a range of topics; Republicans feel there’s a better chance of negotiating each issue as its own legislation. Kennedy backs that plan.

“If we took up each one of those bills separately instead of trying to do some kind of massive package we could pass something,” says Kennedy.

Republicans are pushing to pass an unemployment benefits extension and stimulus check bill by itself, but Democrats say they fear that would lose them leverage in discussions over funding for voting and school safety initiatives.

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