After a weeks-long summer recess, members of Congress are expected to reconvene on Capitol Hill Monday to begin negotiations on what could be the final relief package amid the coronavirus pandemic. Along with discussing topics such as unemployment benefits and coronavirus testing, a second round of stimulus checks will take center stage as Republicans and Democrats work to pass legislation before their next recess in August.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows confirmed to Fox News over the weekend that discussions would "start in earnest" Monday. He said that "we've started to engage with our Senate and House colleagues" even before congressional leaders head back to work. Although many details of the next relief package remain unclear and are proving controversial, Meadows said that it appears as though the package "will be in the trillion-dollar range." He also offered some clues as to what it will look like, stating that "we're not going to be shy about making sure that we have protections for the American worker and those that employ individuals… whether it's a payroll tax deduction, whether it's making sure that unemployment benefits continue, without a disincentive to return to work."
Meadows did not, however, touch on the topic of stimulus checks. With coronavirus cases surging across the country, forcing many people out of work once more, many have argued that further financial relief is needed. Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said over the weekend that he doesn't "know what's going to be in the bill," though he was confident that the next bill will not be the Democratic-backed HEROES Act, which would see another round of $1,200 stimulus payments. Kennedy said that the bill is "untethered to reality" and is "about as popular as a sinkhole."
Americans will likely get their first look at the relief package this week, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch Connell having stated that he anticipated "this coming to a head sometime within the next three weeks, beginning next week." Pushing for a package that would not be as detrimental for the national debt, with some suggesting that McConnell wishes for the package to be no more than $1 trillion, McConnell has suggested lowering the income threshold for eligibility on the next check from $99,000 to $40,000.
As discussion begins, Congress will have 15 days to discuss, negotiate and pass legislation before entering another recess that will last from Aug. 10 until Sept. 7. It is believed that there will be a major push to pass any legislation by Aug. 7. If legislation is not passed by this date, a new bill would not be passed until or after Sept. 8.