At the end of July, several meaningful stipulations based in the CARES Act lapsed. These included a hold on evictions and $600 extra per week for those on unemployment. In the intervening weeks, Congress has been unable to agree on a version of a stimulus bill to replace CARES. Democrats have one that has already passed the House: the HEROES Act. Republicans, however, are fractured, struggling to draft meaningful legislation.
As such, some political scientists believe that Democrats have the upper hand in this struggle. They’re united in their vision and have already passed legislation in the lower chamber. Republicans have yet to even create a bill that could pass the Senate, let alone convince the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. Moreover, Republicans are currently in power, and the public blames them for the current issues more than they blame Democrats.
Republicans in Disarray
Under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republicans in the Senate are having a hard time navigating negotiations. McConnell is adamant that he won’t bring up the Democrats’ HEROES Act for debate on the Senate floor. However, he also can’t get his own party together on what kind of bill they want.
Republicans as a party seem like they didn’t prepare for an issue like the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic is a sweeping, national crisis that requires policy and government aid to address. Some deficit hawks in the Senate have bristled at the idea of spending any more federal funds on public programs. For politicians that have spent their careers criticizing spending, it’s hard to stomach signing off on historically large spending bills.
Democrats Present United Front
Meanwhile, Democrats don’t see a reason to back down. If they sign off on a smaller bill, Republicans could wash their hands of the situation and say “it’s done, no more spending”. Democrats, meanwhile, want to see a massive, sweeping policy change to address the virus. Everything from unemployment benefits to direct checks and millions of dollars in aid for states is in the HEROES Act.
While things like United Airlines group travel remain unlikely due to the pandemic, Democrats are in control of negotiations. Thanks to their control of the House of Representatives and the overwhelming popularity of their policies, Republicans will need to play nice. With an election looming in just over two months, Republicans have a lot to lose come November. The ball is in their court.