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On the Hill: Negotiations Crumble on COVID-19 Relief

After two weeks of meetings, Democratic and Republican negotiators were unable to reach a deal on the next COVID-19 supplemental package.

Conversations halted on Friday afternoon among White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). They were working to find a compromise on the top-line spending number and key policies to include in the legislation to further help the nation respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After negotiations faltered, President Trump issued four executive orders and memoranda related to unemployment insurance, payroll taxes, evictions, and student loans. However, the legality of the executive actions could be challenged as Congress maintains federal spending and taxation authority.

Even if the executive orders stand, several COVID-19 challenges remain unaddressed, including funding for states and localities and key policies for essential hospitals. If negotiations do not resume, Congress could have another opportunity to act at the end of September, as fiscal year (FY) 2020 ends and lawmakers face a deadline for must-pass FY 2021 spending legislation.

Atypical August Recess

Although many senators have returned to their home states, the Senate has not officially adjourned for August recess and could be called back to Washington, D.C., if a legislative deal is reached. Members of the House will be given 24 hours notice if they need to return to the Capitol for a vote.

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About the Author

Nikki Hurt is a manager of legislative affairs at America's Essential Hospitals.

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