This week in Congressional news

Between the 2020 election and the recent White House COVID outbreak, there has been a great deal to monitor in the recent news cycle. Congress is still in session. Here is a rundown on some of the bigger items that your congressional leaders have been working on.

COVID relief

On Oct. 1, the House of Representatives approved a new COVID-19 relief bill, which is a revision to the HEROES Act that was passed back in May. This bill, dubbed the HEROES Act 2.0, signals the continued negotiations between House Democrats and Senate Republicans.

This is a smaller stimulus package than the HEROES Act, but it still includes a number of important provisions — including a $1,200 stimulus check for qualified Americans and the continuation of the $600 unemployment benefit.

Additionally, this bill provides for $50 billion in additional funding for provider relief funds as well as an increase of $100 per month increase in SNAP benefits. The provider relief fundsare to help reimburse providers who have treated COVID-19 patients and lost income on patients who did not have insurance or who were underinsured.

The status of this latest House COVID-19 relief package is still very much in the air. While the HEROES Act 2.0 has a price tag of $2.2 trillion, which is more than $1 trillion less than the House passed legislation from May, it could still be too steep a price for Republicans to stomach. During the summer, Senate Republicans were unwilling to support a COVID-19 package of $1 trillion, but as recently as last month the Trump Administration signaled a willingness to sign a $1.6 trillion relief bill.

What has continued to confuse leaders on either side of the aisle is the president’s changing opinions over the last week. It is unclear where the White House may stand on signing a relief package over the coming weeks.

AIDS United will continue to monitor changes on COVID-19 relief packages.

Continuing resolution

The president also recently signed a continuing resolution, temporarily averting a government shutdown. The continuing resolution continues to fund government agencies and programs funded at the 2020 funding levels until after the election.

When Congress moves into it’s lame duck session after the election, budget negotiations for the 2021 fiscal year will continue. This continuing resolution only keeps the government funded until Dec. 11, at which point a government shutdown could occur.

Should this shutdown take place, it would be devastating for government-funded agencies and programs. The impact for HIV programs would be especially devastating as we continue to weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

Follow AIDS United as we continue to monitor updates on health and housing appropriations