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Senate impasse continues over latest pandemic financial stimulus plan

Senator Charles Schumer (File photo)

With the nation’s economy in tatters thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, partisan wrangling continues to hold up efforts on Capitol Hill to pass another trillion-dollar round of financial relief.

Senate Republicans want to pass the proposed $1 trillion HEALS Act that Democrats say comes up short in providing further relief for working Americans and cash-strapped state and local governments. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, exchanged public statements blaming each other for the latest impasse.

On Sunday, Schumer insisted that a new relief package include “robust state and local funding, and dollars to help schools reopen safely.” 

“Today I am publicly telling the administration: robust state and local funding and dollars to help schools reopen safely, whenever those local decision come, is a must for Democrats and also the right action for the country,” Schumer said. “Months of delay and dithering by Leader McConnell has made all of this a lot harder, but when it comes to ensuring New York and the country have the funding needed to overcome this crisis, Democrats cannot waiver.”

McConnell made remarks on Capitol Hill on July 30 in which he accused Democrats of holding up relief for up to 1.8 million New Yorkers who received the $600 unemployment bonus in the CARES Act, which expired July 31. 

House Democrats had planned to extend the supplement in the $2 trillion HEROES Act that they passed back in May, which also included massive financial relief for state and local governments. McConnell, however, refused to take up the bill.

 “They have refused to move one inch from the Speaker’s far-left proposal that was so absurd, and so unserious, that their own moderate Democrat members began trashing it the instant it came out,” McConnell said on July 30.

Governor Andrew Cuomo discussed with reporters on Sunday morning the hurdles of allowing schools to open, something he said could not be allowed to continue without the proper precautions or the ability end in-person classes if infection rates spike to 9%. But also necessary would be social distancing measure and for personal protective equipment to be provided to staff and students.

According to Mayor Bill de Blasio, these supplies would be provided for free. The Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCCERA), yet to be passed, would put $175 billion in the hands of local governments to provide these supplies to K-12 institutions.

Further discord surrounding between the two center around the temporary elimination of the SALT tax cap for deductions of up to $10,000 in the HEROES Act.

“Just a few minutes ago, our colleague from Wisconsin tried to get consent to continue the unemployment assistance, to prevent it from expiring tomorrow. And the Democratic Leader objected, unless he got to pass the entirety of this massive wish-list,” McConnell said on July 30. “Republicans want to continue this aid before it expires. But the Democratic Leader says let them eat SALT.”

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