Hope for a coronavirus stimulus package in August 2020 has essentially evaporated. Meanwhile, lawmakers are focusing on their national conventions instead of working on a deal on a coronavirus relief package.
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One lawmaker predicts that Republicans will get to work with a renewed focus after their convention is over, but that doesn't mean Democrats will.
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Democrats work on funding for Postal Service
Democrats have staunchly opposed a piecemeal approach to the August 2020 stimulus package. However, that's exactly what they are doing on Saturday by taking up a bill solely aimed at providing $25 billion in funds for the U.S. Postal Service.
The topic of the next coronavirus relief package isn't even likely to come up when the Democrat-led House of Representatives meets on Saturday to vote on the Postal Service bill. President Donald Trump criticized Democrats for interrupting the Republican National Convention to hold the vote on the Postal Service bill.
He tweeted that Democrats are having "ridiculous Post Office hearings on Saturday & Monday, just before and during our Convention." He called on Democrats to hold the hearings during their own convention or after the Republican National Convention is over.
Indeed, it seems like the Democrats' move is a waste of time, and not just because it prevents debate on the next coronavirus relief package. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the Louisville Courier-Journal earlier this week that he doesn't think the Republican-led Senate will pass a bill focused only on the Post Office.
However, he was optimistic that the measure could trigger productive discussions on an August 2020 stimulus package.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany targeted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday, according to Politico. She also dismissed the idea of a standalone bill aimed at the Postal Service. She added that Trump is open to providing more funds for the USPS, but she blamed Pelosi for the gridlock over the next coronavirus relief package on Capitol Hill.
Tim Kaine on an August 2020 stimulus package
While it looks like there will be no August 2020 stimulus package, there is a chance if Sen. Tim Kaine is correct. The Virginia Democrat said on Wednesday that the Senate will probably start working toward a deal on a coronavirus relief package not long after the Republican National Convention wraps up next Thursday.
He added that if Republicans do start working on the coronavirus relief package after the RNC wraps up, there could be a deal not long after Labor Day. He didn't say anything about Democrats' unwillingness to resume talks, so it's unclear whether there actually can be a deal by then. An agreement requires both sides to be at the bargaining table.
It all depends on whether both sides will return to talks when they haven't even met for nearly two weeks. Democrats demand that the White House agree to a $2 trillion price tag before they will reenter negotiations.
There is also the issue that Democrats have been dealing with the White House rather than Senate Republicans in working on a coronavirus relief package.
As talk about the next coronavirus economic stimulus package continues, one thing that seems to have fallen through the cracks is a second round of checks. Both sides started with an agreement on that one issue, but it seems that the talks on other issues have caused that agreement on a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks to fall through the cracks.
Republicans remain concerned about the nation's skyrocketing debt burden and the federal deficit, while Democrats seem content to spend more and more money their grandchildren will never be able to pay back. Striking a balance between these two positions has proven to be impossible.
Aside from a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks, other issues that have been up for debate include an extension of unemployment benefits. Democrats want to extend the extra $600 in weekly benefits, while Republicans want to reduce it, so people don't keep getting paid more on unemployment than they did on the job.
Funding for coronavirus testing and contract tracing will also be part of the next coronavirus economic stimulus package. Republicans have also been pushing for liability protections, but Democrats probably won't budge on that issue. Funding for state and local governments also remains a hot topic.