This is my stimulus update for Tuesday, August 18.
Republicans’ New Bill
So the big stimulus news for today is that Republicans are planning to propose a new stimulus relief bill that will likely include $10 billion in Post Office funding; as well as liability protection for businesses, hospitals, and other establishments; a $300-per-week federal unemployment benefit, and this would be separate from Trump’s limited powers with his memorandum on unemployment; a second round of Paycheck Protection Program funding; funding for coronavirus testing; and funding for schools.
To counter Democratic claims that Republicans are attempting to subvert the postal service in an effort to compromise the election that will take place 11 weeks from today, Mitch McConnell said yesterday that the postal service will “be just fine” and that the $10 billion Republicans are proposing in this new bill is “to make sure the Post Office is on good firm footing going into the November election.”
Now, let’s say this thing passes the Republican-controlled Senate, which may in itself be a challenge because many Republican senators don’t think that more stimulus spending is necessary, but let’s say that happens.
Well, then it has to pass the Democrat-controlled House, and chief among House Democrats is Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who will likely scoff at this bill that will surely appear to be skin-and-bones in her eyes.
Remember, she and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer thought the $1 trillion HEALS Act was silly, they wanted Republicans to go up to at least $2 trillion to be in the right ballpark.
And of course this new bill that Republicans are talking about will be at a far lower price point than their previously-proposed HEALS Act. In Pelosi’s mind, Republicans are going in the wrong direction; she thinks that they should be thinking bigger, not smaller.
That’s how Pelosi has postured herself recently, being opposed to piecemeal, here and there, small, skinny legislation, multiple bills, all that.
Will Pelosi Be Open to Piecemeal Stimulus?
But the House is going to vote on its own Democrat-drafted Post Office bill this Saturday, yes, Pelosi is calling representatives back from recess.
That said, Pelosi has extended proxy voting until October 2, so some members will essentially be voting from home.
But here’s my point. The bill the House will be voting on this Saturday will likely incorporate portions of the Delivering for America Act that I mentioned in my video yesterday as well as perhaps $25 billion of funding for the Post Office.
And you remember that the Democrats’ HEROES Act that passed the house in May also included $25 billion in funding for the Post Office.
So what’s the takeaway here? Takeaway is that perhaps, perhaps, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are not so hard-and-fast with respect to their previous position that they would not entertain a piecemeal piece of legislation.
$25 billion for the Post Office was allocated in the HEROES Act. But it seems that Democrats are OK with doing a standalone bill for the Post Office, both in terms of keeping operations the same as they were at the beginning of the year as well as allocating $25 billion — same as the HEROES Act — to it.
Could we possibly see more openness from the Democrats to more piecemeal stimulus legislation rather than some omnibus bill?
Could we possibly see more openness from the Democrats on a bill that, as I told you Mark Meadows said in my video yesterday, includes Post Office funding, PPP for small businesses, and stimulus checks for the people?
That is my hope, and based on the fact that Republicans are reportedly coming up with a skinny stimulus bill, maybe many Republicans think the same, that’s just my speculation.
We will see what happens in the House on Saturday, but keep in mind that there is no indication at this point from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the Senate intends to return early from its August recess, the Senate is as of right now scheduled to return to D.C. on September 8.
However, if Democrats appear willing to entertain a skinnier stimulus relief bill such as what Republicans are reported to be putting together right now, that could change.
Mark Meadows on Standalone Post Office Bill
Now, one more thing. Mark Meadows, who was perhaps the most obstinate stimulus negotiator, said yesterday to reporters that a standalone Post Office bill such as what the Democrats want to vote on this Saturday would be “unrealistic” and “unnecessary.”
But Meadows, who is Trump’s Chief of Staff, also said that the president is “willing to provide money for the Post office as long as it is included in some other skinny measure if we cannot agree to a larger deal.”
So is this the direction that stimulus is going on? Smaller and more piecemeal rather than monolithic like the HEALS Act or the HEROES Act?
If this is the case, I do hope that any skinny legislation includes stimulus checks, especially considering that the people want them, the President wants them, the Democrats want them, and the Republicans want them.
Clarification From FEMA on Trump’s Unemployment Action
Let’s talk about an update on Trump’s unemployment memorandum. You remember that the unemployment amount is a $300 kick-in from the feds and an optional $100 kick-in from the states. The $300 federal kick-in is being funded by the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund, and according to FEMA, four state grants for funding were made on August 14, and that the Department of Labor estimates it will take an average of three weeks from August 8 for states to be able to pay out this money to individuals. So we’re looking at the tail end of August at the earliest, but of course some states will be able to get this up and running sooner than that, and other states may take a lot longer than that, but that’s the update we have from FEMA.
Now, I expressed concern in a previous video that because of the way this funding works with a cap of $44 billion to be paid out of the Disaster Relief Fund to cover the $300 weekly federal kick-in, I was concerned that the funding would dry up before some states, the slower states, had an opportunity do administer funds.
However, on this point, FEMA said that approved states who get on the ball quickly will receive funding for three weeks’ worth of the $300 kick-in to eligible individuals on unemployment with, “additional disbursements [being made] on a weekly basis in order to ensure that funding remains available for the states who apply for the grant assistance.”
That is what I have for you today, got to keep our eyes on what the cats in Congress are doing right now with this supposed new Republican bill, what the Democrats are doing in the House with the Post Office and how that interacts with stimulus, and of course on the roll-out of Trump’s executive actions, particularly the one on unemployment.