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BPAA Federal Policy Update - August 21, 2020

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COVID-19 and Federal Update:

  • Pelosi Pressured by Moderate Democrats, GOP on Stimulus Talks Moderate swing-state Democrats in the House are increasing their pressure on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to restart stalled stimulus talks with Republicans. Members of the Blue Dog coalition, a group of 26 fiscally conservative Democrats, is asking Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to use a Saturday House vote on a U.S. Postal Service bill as an opportunity to restart negotiations. “As the House prepares to vote this weekend on a bill to protect the United States Postal Service, we urge you to restart bipartisan, bicameral negotiations on a fifth COVID-19 relief package that is commensurate with the scale of this public health and economic crisis,” the group said in a letter to the leaders that will be sent as soon as Thursday and was obtained by Bloomberg News. It urges a compromise, stating that “the reality is that only bipartisan solutions will deliver much-needed support, and that requires principled compromise by both parties.” Read More at Bloomberg

 

  • Republicans Float a Scaled-Back Stimulus Bill Senate Republicans on Tuesday began circulating text of a narrow coronavirus relief package that would revive extra unemployment benefits at half the original rate, shield businesses from lawsuits related to the virus and provide funding for testing and schools. The draft measure appears to be an effort to break through the political stalemate over providing another round of economic stimulus to Americans during the pandemic. But it is unlikely to alter the debate in Washington, where Democrats have repeatedly rejected previous Republican offers as insufficient. The new bill would spend less money, in fewer areas, than those earlier offers. The proposal, according to draft legislation obtained by The New York Times, contains many of the provisions Republicans first introduced as part of a $1 trillion opening bid before negotiations with Democrats. Those talks stalled as Democrats insisted on a much larger package, initially totaling $3.4 trillion. Read More at The New York Times

 

  • White House Open to $25 Billion for USPS The White House said it would be open to providing $25 billion to the U.S. Postal Service ahead of the 2020 election, but tied President Donald Trump’s signature to a piecemeal stimulus approach carrying more relief payments and additional funds for small business loans. Democrats and the administration have been locked in a stalemate over a new stimulus package, with Democrats demanding more funding than Republicans. The two sides are at least $1 trillion apart on another package of pandemic aid to overcome the ravages of a virus that continues to force companies, schools, and other organizations to roll back plans to reopen for business. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) plans to hold a vote Saturday on $25 billion in funding for the Postal Service, amid concerns that it doesn’t have the resources to process mail-in ballots in November elections.
    • White House officials have previously said they were open to $10 billion for the Postal Service. A draft Senate Republican stimulus bill would convert a previous $10 billion loan offer into a grant. McEnany said the administration would want any smaller bill to include economic relief payments and additional funding for small businesses through the federal Paycheck Protection Program.
    • Neal Asks IRS to Halt Tax Bills Due to Mail Backlogs: House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) asked the Internal Revenue Service to stop sending Americans notices of taxes due until the agency gets through a queue of unopened mail. Many taxpayers receiving these notices “already have made the payments that the IRS seeks,” he said. Due to IRS office closures amid the pandemic, the IRS amassed up to 12 million pieces of unopened mail

 

Political News

 

  • Republicans Gear Up to Renominate Trump Next up for convention weirdness: the Republican Party. A group of delegates — six representing each state, territory and the District of Columbia for a total of 336 — is expected to begin arriving this weekend for the Republican National Convention before a formal roll call on Monday morning in Charlotte, N.C. There, President Trump will be nominated in a ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center to lead his party for another four years. The gathering will be muted compared with what was originally envisioned, before the coronavirus pandemic upended both parties’ convention plans. Charlotte, originally prepared to host a raucous presidential renomination celebration, will now be where the procedural party business will take place. Republican National Committee members will gather over the weekend for their annual summer meeting. And Mr. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and a group of congressional lawmakers are expected to arrive on Monday for the televised, in-person roll call and for brief nomination speeches. Read more at the New York Times

 

  • Joe Biden Leads Donald Trump Narrowly Among Pennsylvania Voters In New Morning Call/Muhlenberg College Poll As Democrat Joe Biden formally accepts his party’s presidential nomination, a new Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll shows him with a narrow lead over Republican President Donald Trump in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania. Biden drew support from 49% percent of likely state voters and 45% backed Trump, when those leaning toward a particular candidate were included. That four-point gap is within the poll’s margin of error. A majority of likely voters said the president does not deserve re-election, and rated his response to the coronavirus pandemic as “poor.” But Trump is buoyed in the key swing state by voters who say the economy is their top concern and overwhelmingly perceive their personal economic situation as the same or better than it was when he took office, said Chris Borick, director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion. Those descriptions of voters’ personal economic situations are largely unchanged from a February poll, prior to the economic turmoil sparked by the pandemic. Read More at Morning Call

 

  • Biden's Tax Plan: Eyes On The 1% And Corporations Like Amazon The first night of the Democratic National Convention featured attacks on President Trump’s record and character from figures like Michelle Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders and others. “He is clearly in over his head,” said the former First Lady. The Trump campaign’s official response largely ignored that and started by bringing up a different subject entirely: taxes. Trump’s press secretary opened by saying that “the first night of the Democratic convention left out the fact that Joe Biden would raise taxes on more than 80% of Americans by at least $4 trillion.” The numbers were slightly off but are true in the broad strokes. According to analysts, Biden’s tax plan would raise “between $3.35 trillion and $3.67 trillion” in the coming decade. And Biden himself isn’t denying it. He has directly said to high-income earners that “if you elect me your taxes are going to be raised.” Read More at Yahoo

 

Labor News

  • 1.1M More Workers File For Unemployment As Tally Remains At Historic High During COVID-19 Crisis A gauge of U.S. layoffs rose back above 1 million last week, signaling the recovery from the COVID-19-induced recession will continue to be volatile as recent infection surges ease in some states but persist in others. About 1.1 million Americans filed first-time applications for unemployment insurance, the Labor Department said Thursday, up from 971,000 the prior week. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg estimated that 920,000 workers sought jobless benefits. A mind-boggling 57.3 million workers now have filed for unemployment over the past 22 weeks. Before the pandemic, the previous all-time high for weekly claims was 695,000 during a recession in 1982. Read More at USA Today

 

Tax News

 

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