U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell departs the Senate Chamber after a vote at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. July 23, 2020. REUTERS/Erin Scott

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday released the Republican Health; Economic Assistance; Liability Protection; and Schools Act (HEALS Act). The bill proposes a second stimulus check of $1,200 for eligible Americans, renewed unemployment assistance, and more than $100 billion for school reopening.

In a press release, McConnell said, “We have produced a tailored and targeted draft that will cut right to the heart of three distinct crises facing our country — getting kids back in school, getting workers back to work, and winning the healthcare fight against the virus.” The National Retail Federation stated in a press release that they were “very pleased to see the targeted and temporary liability protection for businesses and schools as well as a package of economic stimulus provisions through direct aid to individuals and a hybrid extension of enhanced federal unemployment insurance.”

The HEALS Act does not include an extension of the federal eviction moratorium or adequate housing relief. The National Low Income Housing Coalition said, “Without immediate action, millions of people in America will be evicted from their homes during a pandemic. Senate Republican proposals would do next to nothing to avoid this predictable and preventable disaster.” According to a study authored by The Aspen Institute, an international nonprofit think tank, approximately “19 to 23 million, or one in five of the 110 million Americans who live in renter households, are at risk of eviction by September 30, 2020.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Monday and will meet again on Tuesday to continue discussions on the proposal. Schumer said, “Unfortunately, we’re pretty far apart right now, although I’m optimistic we could have a good solution at the end.” Pelosi also stated that maintaining current $600 unemployment benefits will be her starting point in negotiations with Republicans.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

McConnell formally unveils $1 trillion Senate GOP stimulus proposal: ‘The American people need more help’ – CNN – 7/27/2020
Senate Republicans on Monday formally unveiled their roughly $1 trillion stimulus proposal, which includes a $400 cut in enhanced unemployment benefits, and will serve as an opening bid for bipartisan negotiations with Democrats while Congress scrambles to respond to the economic and public health crisis sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sen. Marco Rubio: Passing next COVID-19 relief package won’t be easy but we’ll ‘get there’ – Fox News – 7/28/2020
he Senate Republicans’ $1 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package, titled the “HEALS Act,” won’t be easy to pass, but lawmakers will “get there,” Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday. In an interview on “Fox & Friends,” the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee chairman said that Democrats and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. would likely “attack” anything Republicans presented.

Unsanitized: The HEALS Act Emerges – The American Prospect – 7/28/2020
Here’s what’s missing: There’s no extension of the eviction moratorium, no money for the postal service or the November elections, no hazard pay for essential workers, no OSHA standards for workplaces, no money to shore up pensions, no funds for people who lost employer-sponsored health insurance, no increase to food stamp benefits. And none of the $1 trillion in new money for state and local government.

The Next Coronavirus Stimulus Plan: More Spending, Smaller Unemployment Benefits, and Tax Breaks for Going Out To Eat – Reason – 7/28/2020
The continued-but-reduced payments are on one hand an acknowledgment of the depth of the economic recession triggered by COVID-19 and associated lockdowns—more than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic. On the other, they reflect a growing concern among Republicans about the status of the country’s finances after more than $3.6 trillion in emergency spending in recent months, as well as concern that the $600 per week payments might hamper the post-coronavirus recovery.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

ACLU on Twitter, 7/27/2020: We need meaningful reform to defend our most vulnerable and address the civil liberties challenges exacerbated by this pandemic. The Senate HEALS Act falls incredibly short.

Senate Republicans on Twitter, 7/27/2020: ⚡ BREAKING → Senate Republicans just released the HEALS Act. This is the conservative plan to *finish the fight* against coronavirus:
✓ Provides tools to reopen responsibly
✓ Tailored relief to Americans who need it most
✓ Surge in resources for testing + vaccine

Noah Bookbinder on Twitter, 7/27/2020: Among many other issues, the coronavirus relief legislation just introduced by the Senate majority includes $0 for safe elections this fall. Not acceptable.

Tim Scott on Twitter, 7/27/2020: The Health, Economic Assistance, Liability protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act will include my Supporting America’s Restaurant Workers Act, which provides a 100% deduction for business meals through the end of 2020.

Stand Up America on Twitter, 7/28/2020: The HEALS Act is a $1 trillion package. Some details:
-Unemployment benefits slashed by $400/week
-A liability shield to protect corporations
-No eviction moratorium
-No plan to combat coronavirus
-ZERO dollars for election funding
Who does this plan benefit, @senatemajldr?

Senator Roy Blunt on Twitter, 7/28/2020: The HEALS Act aims to
✅ Safely reopen our schools
✅ Help get Americans back into the workforce
✅ Provide additional funding for vaccine research, testing, and treatments

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