Congress 2020: Late and inadequate COVID-19 relief

As it prepares to adjourn for good, the lame duck 116th Congress stumbled toward year-end legislation that would keep the federal government running and provide a $900 billion down payment on coronavirus relief. The need is acute even as manufacturers deliver vaccines approved for emergency use: COVID-19 is surging, unemployment claims are rising, and the consumer spending that drives the U.S. economy is declining. Yet the eight-month wait for congressional action is culminating in inadequate legislation, setting the stage for still more human suffering and economic hardship.

The coronavirus package is a mixed bag and helps some, but not others.

  • It includes $82 billion to help equip schools and college campuses to reopen safely and address budget shortfalls, with $2.75 billion earmarked for private schools with restrictions and public accountability requirements.
  • Despite evidence of as many as 16 million students without access to the Internet, GOP leaders refused to provide billions in necessary funding via the successful E-Rate program to help ensure students forced to learn remotely can do so.
  • For higher education, the bill removes a prohibition on Pell Grants for incarcerated students and restores eligibility to students defrauded by their college; it also includes a simplification of the financial aid (FAFSA) form and financial aid calculations that may expand Pell eligibility. But it fails to extend the moratorium on payments and interest accrual for student-loan borrowers, which will expire on January 31, 2021.
  • It includes $13 billion to increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by 15 percent as well as Pandemic EBT for families with children in childcare programs and meals for seniors.
  • Tax credits for employers that provide paid emergency sick leave is included, but this is a half-measure at best that does not guarantee workers who are sick or exposed can safely stay home without losing pay.

Enhanced unemployment benefits set to expire at the end of the year are expected to be renewed at the level of $300 per week—half the current amount. Certain individuals will also receive a one-time payment of $600—half the amount provided by the CARES Act in March, with $500 per child dependent. The bill does not include state and local aid to help avoid laying off educators, firefighters, and other essential public servants.

As of this writing, the package is expected to be passed by both chambers and then signed into law.

28 responses to “Congress 2020: Late and inadequate COVID-19 relief

  1. E Pluribus Unim; that means “I’ve got mine, Jack, and to Hell with the rest of you? How’s your Russian aluminum factory doing these days?

  2. Facts? You are woefully uninformed, or more likely, willfully misinformed. You are making the standard Kelly Ann, GOP alternative facts. Here is the list of giver and takers of federal dollars from 2014 if you care to know. The rates remain similar today. Doubtful if you have any interest in knowing the truth. Too inconvenient for your predigested beliefs.

  3. Congress acts like this pitiful and almost useless “donation” of financial assistance is coming out of their very own pockets. They seem to forget that this is OUR money. Congress is so miserly with Main Street and extravagant with Wall Street.
    Today, my credit card was declined because of an overdue payment. The check was sent three weeks before it was due! The credit card company said that this happened because of the post office slowdown. I then paid electronically from my bank acct. They promised to cancel late fees and interest. They said this is happening a lot now. I was on the phone for a long time navigating my way through a maze of recorded messages. We need human beings answering calls. We need timely mail service; we need customer service that employs people who would rather work than deal with the indignity of government assistance.
    I never paid much attention to who our Senators and Representatives are, but that is ending now!

  4. People that need the money just to survive are now getting half of what was given in the last COVID-19 relief. This new bill is a half-hearted attempt to provide relief to those that need it. I am embarrased that our govenment can spend 6 months arguing about this bill and this is all that they can come up with!!!! Maybe our govenment officials need to give up their pay to make up the difference for those that are going to struggle even with this bill passing!!!!

    1. The GOP is a pathetic, disgusting much of low life scum bags this money is not shit what the hell 600.00 bucks they should all give up all their pay REMEMBER THEIR NAMES MAKE SURE THEY GET VOTED OUT. PATHETIC TRAITORS LEAD BY THE WORST OF ALL mcconnell

    2. The government response under Trump is that Trump wanted to get rid of those who were most likely to die from COVID-19. Check out the emails from his advisors and Trump. We have never in our country’s history had suck a murderous President!

  5. Well, the American public is once again getting sh– upon by our lackluster politicians, namely the self-indulgent “repugnant” party – the butt-kissers of the big corporations nonetheless. It is disgusting beyond belief when it is a well known fact that big corporations and those than run them have millions and billions to do as they damn well please while the rest of us are going without basic necessities – i.e. our medications, proper health care – you name it!!!!!!! I, personally, need a car, I have been relying on my daughter to take me grocery shopping, etc., etc., etc. I gave my very old van to my youngest daughter so that she has a vehicle to get her to her job. I haven’t seen a physician in nearly two years – I am 83-years-old, by the way, and need my meds refilled which requires a general physical exam, etc., beforehand. I am sick and tired of this Covid thing keeping most of us basically house-bound and/or constantly having to do without while the big “cats” are “sucking all of the oxygen out of the air” (in a manner of speaking), including that fat-toad sitting in the White House under the guise of our “president” – (which, in itself, is laughable – make that “insane”!!!) We have a whole lot of “repugnants” who aid and abet that blundering idiot on a daily basis – one of the very worst is from Wisconsin (you guessed it – Ron Johnson) among others, of course. Indeed, I could go on, ad infinitum, but I am obviously wasting my time.

  6. If Congress really wants to help consumers without gov. money involved, they could cap interest rates on credit card debt to between 15-20% of balance. Letting credit card companies charge rates of 20-29%, is just ludicrous when many are having to use them to buy food, pay bills, etc. during the pandemic. Average people are running out of savings and resortIng to credit to survive. At the current high rates on these cards, the average family will never get out of debt. CC companies will not like it, but they’ll still be paid 15-20% interest which is more than fair and triple what they charge wealthy borrowers anyway.

  7. Wow it’s astounding that our government which we support financially uses the money for themselves and businesses to make them richer!!! They fail to serve and protect the people as they were hired to do; as mentioned many times by many they are not doing their jobs and therefore we should withhold our taxes! oh that’s right they have the power to punish us for not doing as they set the terms and demand. Well they are the ones who will need to answer to their higher power and to themselves; good luck with that self-serving frauds.

  8. Something needs to be done to help out these small businesses, especially in the restaurant industry. The $600 is a pathetic amount for young families as to live on. Give the money to those unemployed or essential workers instead of people like myself on social security. Big business wins again.

  9. What can you expect from the quintessential dangerous men in charge of the Republican party that really want to create an exclusive society through deregulation and privatization.

  10. I’m disappointed dependents with disabilities were left out again. My son is 25 years old. He has cerebral palsy, is profoundly deaf, & uses a wheelchair for mobility. He needs funds just as much as a dependent 17 and younger. 😡

  11. The measure passed for some relief is totally inadequate! After the administration gave US corporations benefits amounting to trillions of dollars of support and at the same time has been loose about administering COVID-19 relief awards to date allowing corporations to gain more funds intended for struggling persons and businesses, and with American millions out of work and with little prospect of being free of limitations posed by coronavirus, it is tragic and unfair to be so miserly with support desperately needed – too little and definitely too late!

    Thomas Rogers

    1. If democrats hadn’t delayed this process , and had not insisted on adding pork to it, we could have had a less expensive more effective plan sooner. By the way, the NEA should stay out of politics and focus more on educating our children.

      In my own town, we weRe instructed by BLM to change our history curriculum, hire more people of color, and devote at least half of our professional development days to sensitivity training re racist issues. Two years ago it was LGBT sensitivity. No wonder johnny can’t read or do math. We need to get back to education, not political indoctrination. I am a retired teacher and see room for much improvement. Get to work guys!

      1. BLM, LGBT, … are all topics that our educated children need learn and know about if we are educating the “whole person”. We need a future generation with OPEN minds and hearts — not biases and prejudices. Education stumps ignorance!

  12. The measure passed for some relief is totally inadequate! After the administration gave US corporations benefits amounting to trillions of dollars of support and at the same time has been loose about administering COVID-19 relief awards to date allowing corporations to gain more funds intended for struggling persons and businesses, and with American millions out of work and with little prospect of being free of limitations posed by coronavirus, it is tragic and unfair to be so miserly with support desperately needed – too little and definitely too late!

    Thomas Rogers

    1. I think it is absolutely criminal that the republicans (eg mitch mcconnell) let this much needed aid stall for months, ultimately not even getting approved in time for Christmas.

    2. The 16 million w/o Internet access is grossly exaggerated.
      E-Rate learning is anything but successful.
      If teachers don’t feel safe returning to the classroom then they should seek other employment.

  13. We need more than a $600 stimulus check. That will do nothing. We need at least another $1200 for each adult to get back some of their dignity and their homes.

  14. This relief package for the people offering a $600 and $300 in additional unemployment is a joke.

    How will people pay rent and utilities.

    How about $3600 and a $600 for unemployment. People want to work if there are jobs but that might not be the case till June. Look at the food bank lines!!!!!!!!!!!! The economy is going to tank, listen to the economist on the trillions needed to keep things going. Not happy with the republican party supporting TRump and not being leaders . You are going to kill what the party stood for before Trump.

  15. Your opinions are worthless and do not belong in the discussion of any relief package. You can blame your Democrat friends in congress for the delays. Focus on getting your members back into the classroom so you can educate our children. You’ve had 9 months to figure this out. Do something!

    1. Marilyn, Mitch McConnell has sat on the original bill for over 6 months and the last I heard he is a Republican, not a Democrat.

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