Updated: Oct 12
We're getting a little dizzy from all the head spinning caused by changing minds in the Senate and White House regarding the status of negotiations on a comprehensive pandemic relief bill. Even Mitch McConnell said that he was perplexed by the mixed-messaging.
Our key take-away from all the back and forth is: Hope is not lost. This fight is not over. There is still a path towards relief.
Today, however, seeing the effects of his tweet on the stock market, Trump reversed his position, instead saying that he wanted a "big deal" with Speaker Pelosi, even going so far as to agree that there is a low risk that Congress could "overdo it." This was later confirmed through a 40 minute phone call between Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Mnuchin this evening, continuing to work out details of a comprehensive deal.
While it is unfortunate that the stock market is being used as the justification for the reversal rather than the suffering of millions of Americans who aren't represented by Dow and Nasdaq figures, the position switch underscores the vital need for elected leadership to step up and pass comprehensive relief.
So what is the focus of the "deal" now? Sources close to the White House have shared that, before talks were halted, the deal under review between Pelosi and Mnuchin would have included $1,200 stimulus checks, renewed enhanced unemployment benefits (likely at $500/wk), and would have allocated $75 billion for testing and tracing. When negotiations were halted (likely the trigger point for Trump's "end it" tweet), Democrats were looking for assurances on a broad testing strategy. Pelosi stated today that was still in the air.
Some have criticized Speaker Pelosi's reticence to pass a stand-alone bill. Today she made clear her reasoning - no bailouts for corporations (like airlines and other major players), without relief for individuals. By tying it together in one comprehensive package, the Speaker believes that the most robust package can be secured for the most vulnerable citizens.
The Airline Industry has recently come to the foreground of relief efforts, as the Payroll Support Program expired on October 1, prompting talk of mass layoffs and a crippled travel infrastructure. This in turn prompted major consideration to be given to a "stand-alone" bill or piecemeal legislation to get individual industries restarted. But now, months into this crisis, businesses are banding together to say "we're all in this together." Relief for ALL now.
“We know the airlines are hurting,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told the Washington Post. He quickly added that so are unemployed workers, small businesses, hungry children and millions of others. “We have taken the position that we have to try to get all of these needs met.”
ExtendPUA.org agrees. There is no sustainable way to pass pandemic relief in sections; it is all interconnected. And passing piecemeal legislation will likely mean those at the top will get their relief and those who are often left behind will continue to be. We will continue to push our legislators through direct meetings with Senators and their offices (sign up here), and we have also reinvigorated the #DoNotAbandonUS campaign, underscoring the need for our leaders to take decisive action to pass comprehensive relief NOW, for ALL people, as the FIRST priority toward recovery. We are advocating across businesses and social situations. The reach of this pandemic is broad and so, too, must be our advocacy.