Lawmakers Discuss More Economic Relief Efforts

Senate Votes to Extend PPP

On Tuesday evening, the Senate voted to extend the Paycheck Protection Program. Less than four hours before the PPP was scheduled to expire with $130 billion left to spend, all 100 senators agreed to push the deadline for spending the money to August 8.

About $520 billion from the PPP has already been allocated to help over 4.8 million small businesses weather hardships related to the pandemic. As COVID-19 cases rise in numerous states, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recognize that small businesses will still need assistance in the coming months.

The legislation to extend the PPP now needs to be passed by the House of Representatives and signed by President Trump. Congress adjourns for two weeks on Friday, so analysts will be watching carefully to see if the House passes the PPP extension before the break.

A “Phase 4” Relief Program

The PPP is just one of many coronavirus relief programs lawmakers are currently discussing. Plans are also being made for a “Phase 4” aid package.

Both Republicans and Democrats are looking back at the $2 Trillion CARES Act while thinking about what the next phase of relief should include. However, the two sides disagree about which parts of the bill were successful and which were not.

For example, some Republicans say jobless benefits have been too gracious and should be replaced with tax cuts and other incentives for people to return to work. Democrats, on the other hand, say that the economy is under so much strain that people cannot be expected to find jobs to return to. Democrats have also said that if the $600 per week in unemployment insurance runs out, many people could face extreme poverty.

As for President Trump, yesterday he said he supports another, “larger” round of direct payments to Americans. That means that more stimulus checks could hit bank accounts by the end of the summer.

A Tight Schedule

The House and the Senate have alternating recess schedules. This means that when Congress returns from its break, it will only have an 11-day window between July 20 and July 31 to come to an agreement about the “Phase 4” package.

When the first relief bills were passed in March, markets were in free-fall. The need for relief to be passed quickly was crystal clear. Some analysts are worried that lawmakers will not have the same sense of urgency they had in March, and it may be harder for them to reach compromises quickly.

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