House Democrats Hope To Have $1T Wish-List Legislation Finished By End Of Week To Put Pressure On Senate
The negotiations over the next relief package are likely to be anything but smooth. Republicans are pushing for liability protections for businesses in the next round of talks, a “red line” for them that Democrats reject. But Democrats hope to put the pressure on the Senate with a new bill this week. In other news from Capitol Hill: health benefits, burial funds, aid for providers and more.
Democrats Aim To Squeeze Republicans On Next Coronavirus Relief Package
Top House Democrats on Monday signaled they are forging ahead with the next sweeping coronavirus relief package, aiming to increase the pressure on GOP leaders who have rejected Democratic priorities in previous aid bills. On a private call with members Monday afternoon, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her deputies sketched the outline of a trillion-dollar-plus package that would deliver aid to state and local governments — some on the brink of public service cuts — while shoring up safety-net programs for the nation’s most vulnerable. (Caygle and Ferris, 5/4)
The Wall Street Journal:
Liability Shield Is Next Coronavirus Aid Battle In Congress
Senate Republicans’ effort to shield companies from liability during the coronavirus pandemic sets the stage for a showdown with Democrats, as allies of businesses and labor fight over the terms under which the economy will emerge from its partial shutdown. Senate lawmakers returned to Washington on Monday to tackle confirmations of judges and officials and to start working out the next round of relief for households and businesses, on top of almost $3 trillion approved so far. (Hughes and Gershman, 5/4)
The New York Times:
Lawmakers Ask I.R.S. To Help Companies That Keep Paying Health Benefits
A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including the chairmen of the tax-writing committees in the House and the Senate, asked the Internal Revenue Service on Monday to allow companies that continue paying the cost of health benefits for furloughed workers to remain eligible for a new tax credit. At issue is a tax credit for retaining employees, which essentially reimburses companies for as much as half the wages they continue to pay workers who are furloughed amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Tankersley, 5/4)
Trump Hasn’t Released Funds That Help Families Of COVID-19 Victims Pay For Burials. Members Of Congress Want To Change That.
Democratic members of Congress are urging President Donald Trump to authorize FEMA to reimburse funeral expenses for victims of the coronavirus pandemic, citing ProPublica’s reporting about the administration’s policies. “Just as with all previous disasters, we should not expect the families of those that died — or the hardest hit states — to pay for burials,” said the statement issued Friday from Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “President Trump needs to step up and approve this assistance so FEMA can pay for the funerals of our fellow Americans so they can be buried in dignity. It is the least he can do.” (Torbati, 5/4)
Insurer-Owned Medical Practices Received CARES Act Provider Grants
Medical practices owned by at least one insurer got some of the $175 billion grant fund Congress set up to help providers offset coronavirus-related expenses and losses.UnitedHealth Group, which has been a leader in acquiring physician practices in recent years, received $49 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act's provider relief fund, but returned the money to HHS. (Cohrs, 5/4)
The New York Times:
Coronavirus Exposes A G.O.P. Divide: Is The Market Always Supreme?
Questions over whether the government should play a more active role in protecting Americans from global shocks like the coronavirus pandemic have exposed a widening divide in the Republican Party over whether the small-government, free-market brand of conservatism at the heart of its agenda — and a top priority of its biggest donors — is out of step with the times. The debate traces some of the same ideological fault lines that run through the party over President Trump’s economic and trade policies, which excite many of the voters who are drawn to his nationalist appeals but alarm the party’s more traditional, pro-business wing. (Peters, 5/5)
Coronavirus Conundrum: How To Cover Millions Who Lost Their Jobs And Health Insurance
The Worker Health Coverage Protection Act is one bill being considered as Congress tries to figure out what to do about the very real health care gap for those millions who have lost their jobs. Sponsors of the COBRA legislation say they hope their plan gets rolled into the next relief bill. But it's unclear when, how and whether the problem will get addressed in upcoming coronavirus relief measures. (Gorenstein and Walker, 5/4)