• House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy warned Congress may not pass a new coronavirus relief package until the first week of August
  • If Congress fails to agree on a new relief bill before the end of July, millions of Americans will lose out on the $600 unemployment insurance benefits
  • Republicans and Democrats have gone back and forth about extending unemployment benefits, with the White House’s desire to cut funding for coronavirus testing and tracing adding a further complication

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy warned Congress may not be able to pass a new coronavirus relief bill by the end of July, meaning millions of Americans could see smaller unemployment checks until a new relief package is signed.

“I envision that this bill doesn’t get done by the end of July,” McCarthy, a Republican from California, said Monday on CNBC. “I envision that same process happens with the speaker holding it up, trying to get something else into the bill. We’ll probably be the first week of August before we make this happen.”

McCarthy’s comment is in reference to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holding up several relief proposals related to the Paycheck Protection Program and new funding for the CARES act.

Congress has been trying to iron out a new relief bill over the last month as several states have seen record surges in coronavirus cases, forcing states to pause or roll back reopening. One point of contention has been the $600 unemployment insurance benefit added to unemployment paychecks during the pandemic and whether or not to extend it.

Democrats have argued for extending it due to the recent surge and fear of a looming second coronavirus wave over the winter. They’ve also pushed for additional aid for the unemployed, a second stimulus check, hazard pay for essential workers, increased aid to state and local governments struggling financially, and financial assistance to renters and homeowners to help address expiring evictions and foreclosure holds.

However, Republicans have been arguing to either reduce the amount of aid provided or change the policy, altogether. The latter would be meant to encourage states and businesses to begin reopening and hiring by providing tax benefits or breaks for doing so. It would also include liability protections for workplaces, schools, and hospitals operating during the pandemic.

Following McCarthy’s comments, Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill pointed to the split between Congressional Republicans and the White House as the reason for the relief package being held up.

“The House acted on the Heroes Act nine weeks ago – a robust package to address both the health and economic crises we face,” Hammill said in a press release. “We don’t need any lectures from Republicans who are struggling among themselves to agree on a partisan package with their own White House.”

Hammill’s comment is referencing the White House’s reported desire to cut funding for coronavirus testing and tracing, which several Republicans in Congress reportedly oppose.

PPP, EIDL, and MSLP loans all come with different restrictions on how their funds can be spent. Photo: Photo: Jernej Furman/Flickr

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