Trump's payroll tax deferral nixed for House employees

Frustrated lawmakers draft their own pandemic aid package

The House group — which includes roughly four dozen members, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats — voted to endorse the bill earlier this week, as frustrations at the delay have mounted in both parties. In addition to consulting their own leadership, the lawmakers also involved the White House in their planning, with feedback that one source described as “positive.”

Still, the proposal does little to close the gap between the vastly different pandemic relief bills — and political mindsets — of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Senate GOP lawmakers argue that billions of already approved aid has yet to be spent, while Democratic leaders say they won’t accept any package below $2 trillion.

Few on Capitol Hill expect a deal is possible in the remaining weeks before both the House and Senate will leave town to campaign before November.

One of the biggest sticking points between the two parties has been Congress’ now-expired unemployment aid program, which offers an extra $600 per week to Americans who lost jobs in the pandemic.

The plan from the Problem Solvers would resume those checks at $450 per week for the first two months, eventually increasing to $600 per week — as long as it did not exceed the person’s previous wage, resolving a major complaint among Republicans.

But the proposal also includes billions of new spending that is all but certain to draw fire from the Senate GOP: $500 billion for state and local governments, $15 billion for the U.S. Postal Service and $400 million for election assistance.

The entire package calls for $1.5 trillion in new spending, but could have a price tag of roughly $2 trillion if the pandemic worsens by next spring and a vaccine is not widely available. If the economy improves, the total cost would decrease by $200 billion, based on certain metrics.

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