September 16, 2020 – While there has been no actual progress toward a new round of COVID-19 relief legislation, there is increasing pressure on Congress to do something before the end of the month. A bipartisan Congressional group called the Problem Solvers released a framework for a $2 trillion package in an effort to break the gridlock. The proposal does not include the expanded WOTC target group proposed in the Senate’s HEALS Act, and includes a smaller expansion of the retention credit than either the HEALS or HEROES Act. Based on their document, there is an indication that they are only proposing an expansion of the ERTC for small businesses. The proposal was immediately dismissed by the Democratic Committee Chairs and was derided by others as causing more problems. Nevertheless, some news reports indicated that White House negotiator Mark Meadows encouraged the proposal in order to help restart talks.
There are multiple reports that House Democrats are pushing Speaker Pelosi to get something done. According to the Washington Post, the Speaker “announced on a conference call with House Democrats on Tuesday morning that the House would remain in session until a new agreement is struck, saying, ‘We have to stay here until we have a bill.’” However, it has also been reported that the House is already scheduled to be in session for the next two weeks and this statement is merely meant to placate members, but isn’t realistic. The government will shut down on October 1 unless Congress passes a funding bill. This is the only realistic legislative vehicle with which to pass additional relief before the election.