- This week, the U.S. Senate will begin debate on a fifth stimulus bill in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Will Congress be able to compromise to stave off what some analysts say would be permanent damage to the economy?
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This week, we find out how broken Congress really is.
The U.S. Senate is set to begin debate on a fifth stimulus bill in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, hoping to pass something before its month-long summer recess starts Aug. 10.
Yes, the weekly $600 of extra unemployment insurance benefits expired last week. And yes, the Democrat-led House of Representatives passed the $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act in May and a final plan could have been considered by the Republican-led Senate at any point since then. So putting off debate until now is already a sign of how bad things are politically, especially when the two sides are so far apart.
But economists warn that more delays may make things much, much worse. “Once the downward spiral starts — more job losses leading to less consumer spending leading to more business closures leading to more job losses — it can lead to an even deeper downturn that permanently damages the economy for years to come,” writes Heather Long in the Washington Post. “Economists say the United States is not spiraling yet, but the nation is at an inflection point.”
With optimism growing that a COVID-19 vaccine could come by the end of the year, there’s a chance this relief bill will be the final one in this pandemic.
Analysts say a compromise on a $2 trillion stimulus package seems possible and wonder why someone — running-for-reelection President Trump, perhaps? — isn’t pushing for that. We should get some answers shortly.
Here’s what else we’re watching this week:
BIDEN VP PICK: Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden says he’ll decide on his running mate this week, though the exact day is still unclear, as is who the choice will be. What is clear is that it will be a woman and that whoever she is — circumstantial evidence points to California Sen. Kamala Harris, though CNN has reasons for at least 10 possible picks — will help shape the campaign.
NATIONAL DAY OF RESISTANCE (Monday): Across the country, students will join with their parents and teachers to protest the reopening of schools before “the scientific data supports it.” The American Federation of Teachers has already resolved to support its members who strike if their schools try to open in areas with high COVID-19 infection rates or without proper ventilation or social distancing measures. Some argue the protests could stop premature reopenings pushed “to restore [the ruling rich’s] bottom line.”
DISNEY EARNINGS (Tuesday): The entertainment giant will announce 2Q earnings, but also offer a look at how the pandemic has affected its entire industry. It already postponed the release of the much-anticipated, live-action “Mulan” and confirmed the next “Star Wars” won’t arrive until 2023, making the future of movie theaters even murkier. Reopening Walt Disney World in Florida is controversial, but it may also be a template for how to do it safely.
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