The U.S. House of Representatives was originally scheduled to return next week, but without a firm deal in place to pass an additional recovery bill House Democrats have delayed their plans to return to D.C. while Congress and the Administration continue discussions surrounding the next package to address the ongoing health and economic crisis.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and a number of other Republicans have indicated they want to wait and assess the implementation of current programs before proceeding with additional deficit spending. However, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have already begun working on Democrat demands for a Phase Four package that would likely seek to include additional aid to state and local governments, social safety net expansion, including unemployment benefits and nutritional assistance; expanded workplace safety protections for front-line workers; a “Heroes Fund” to provide hazard pay to front-line workers; additional health care funds; and additional direct payments to individuals. White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said the administration is weighing the idea of more aid to individuals, possibly adding to the first stimulus package’s $1,200 direct payment per qualified person.
On Sunday, Secretary Steven Mnuchin also said the Trump administration is considering government loans to help out the oil and gas industry, which has undergone severe economic damage during the pandemic. Congress so far has declined to provide the funding due to opposition from Democrats who oppose aiding the oil industry; however, Treasury still has roughly $250 billion in untapped funds allotted from the CARES Act that can be used in conjunction with the Federal Reserve to provide liquidity with the Secretary’s broad discretion.