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Speaker Pelosi Sets Tuesday Deadline for Coronavirus Relief Bill Negotiations as Senate Prepares to Vote on “Targeted” Relief Proposal

Negotiations over a new coronavirus relief bill continue, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) setting an October 20 deadline to determine whether she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will be able to reach a deal before Election Day on November 3. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced the Senate would vote on a “targeted” $500 billion relief package on October 21.

While progress has been made in bridging the gap between the $2.2 trillion revised HEROES Act the House passed earlier this month (see Memo, 10/5) and the latest $1.88 trillion proposal from the White House, there remain significant disagreements over key policy provisions, including aid to state and local governments and liability protections for businesses. The White House’s proposal was roundly criticized by both parties, with Democrats stating the bill was “sadly inadequate” and Republicans panning it as too expensive.

As Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Mnuchin continue negotiations, Majority Leader McConnell’s much smaller relief package, scheduled for a vote on October 21, would provide approximately $500 billion for increased unemployment assistance, additional funding for schools and coronavirus testing, and a new infusion of money for the Paycheck Protection Program, but would provide no funding for emergency rental assistance, homelessness services, or any other housing assistance. The bill is not expected to pass the Senate and would almost certainly fail in the House.

Communities are struggling to meet the urgent needs of people experiencing homelessness who are at greater risk of severe illness, hospitalizations, and death due to coronavirus. NLIHC and other experts estimate that without federal intervention, 30 to 40 million renters are at risk of losing their homes when the federal eviction moratorium expires at the end of the year. In the meantime, small landlords who rely on rental income to maintain and operate their properties will increasingly struggle to pay their bills.

The time for political games and brinkmanship has long passed. Every day of inaction puts more low-income renters at risk of losing their homes. The White House and Congress should continue to negotiate and enact a relief package that includes critical resources to keep renters stably housed and address the housing and health needs of people experiencing homelessness.