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Advocacy & Policy Update - October 5, 2020



The House is in recess. The Senate is in recess until October 19. There is a CR until December 11.


On Wednesday, September 30, President Trump signed a temporary stopgap spending bill that punts the funding fight until after presidential elections. Earlier Wednesday, the Senate passed the legislation on a vote of 84 to 10 to keep the government funded at current levels through December 11. The bill also adds $8 billion in nutrition assistance programs; allows for farm aid distributed through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), but with measures sought by Democrats to prohibit payments to fossil fuel refiners and importers; and expands an expiring program providing low-income children with meals to include child care centers impacted by pandemic-related closures.  Heroes Act/Stimulus Negotiations On Thursday, October 1, the House passed an updated version of The HEROES Act on a vote of 214-207. Last week, House Democrats unveiled the scaled-back $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which is $1.2 trillion less than the original bill. The package includes almost $500 billion in emergency aid for state and local governments; $225 billion for schools and child care; an additional round of $1,200 stimulus checks for most Americans; money to restore $600 expanded unemployment payments through January; $75 billion for testing, contact tracing and other health care efforts; billions for housing assistance; and funding to shore up the census, U.S. Postal Service and elections. It also includes $25 billion to stave off thousands of layoffs at passenger airlines, as well as $3 billion for airline contractors, a key provision backed by President Trump and the GOP.

Republicans are opposed to additional funding for state and local governments in the next stimulus, and it is emerging as the most debated issue in negotiations. Another major sticking point is liability protections for businesses, schools and other entities that are not part of the Democratic measure. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed his belief that the two parties are still too far apart to come to a deal before the elections - Republicans’ topline has been $1.3 to $1.5 trillion so they are still about $1 trillion apart. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are expected to continue working on negotiations through this weekend. The Democrats’ last offer was $436 billion, with Republicans countering at $250 billion. On Thursday, October 1, Pelosi and Mnuchin held a private phone call with Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell to discuss state and local funding, and municipal lending. The call has not yet been officially reported, and reflects the extent to which the two principals are working to try to reach a deal.

President Donald Trump has only tweeted five times while being treated for COVID-19 at Walter Reed Medical Center and one of them was pushing Congress to strike a Covid relief bill. “OUR GREAT USA WANTS & NEEDS STIMULUS. WORK TOGETHER AND GET IT DONE. Thank you!”

This signals that the Treasury Secretary is heavily incentivized to secure a Covid relief deal, as the President wants to show that he’s working and Mnuchin -- already looking to make a deal -- is now under pressure to deliver.

It won’t be easy as time will be extremely tight. Even if a deal comes together this week -- far from assured -- the Senate won’t be back in session until October 19. That’s two weeks from now. 

Click here to access the state and local summary.

Click here to access the section-by-section summary.

Click here to access the one-page fact sheet. 

Click here to access the full bill.

National Disability Awareness Month October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and this year’s theme is “Increasing Access and Opportunity.” NDEAM is an annual, nationwide campaign that celebrates the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities each October, and this year marks the 7th observance.  Help spread the word about NDEAM.

Click here for sample content and promotional materials. 

Click here to access ODEP’s guide to planning NDEAM observances.

Unemployment Rate

On Friday, October 2, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the September jobs report, which showed the economy added 661,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate dropped to 7.9%. The report indicates that the U.S. jobs recovery is slowing. Notably, 865,000 women left the labor force in September, about four times the number of men and Latinas accounted for more than a third of that decline. The mass exit of women from jobs coincided with the start of the U.S. school year, with many children learning online and at home.

Click here to read the full report.

Click here to read the entire October 5 weekly legislative update.

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