Many people began July confident that the US Senate would pass a second round of COVID-19 relief assistance bills. Those hopes were dashed on Friday when the Senate took a three day weekend without passing any additional relief measures. Supplemental unemployment insurance benefits expired on 7/25, removing the additional $600 a week boost for workers who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
This means that on Saturday, August 1st, thousands of residents in Colorado were holding the bag for rent or mortgage payments without means of paying. But, that is one of many questions Coloradans are asking this week. Unfortunately, answers are scarce right now but here’s what we know:
What are our options?
There are two additional COVID-19 aid bills in the Senate. The Democrats’ bill, the HEROES Act, was passed by the House of Representatives in May. The HEROES Act calls to extend supplemental unemployment benefits until January, an additional round of $1200 checks (with some families receiving up to $6000), and $1 trillion in aid for state and local governments facing loss of tax revenue.
The HEROES Act also calls for increased production and delivery of PPE and other medical supplies as well as hazard pay for essential workers
The second bill comes courtesy of Mitch McConnell. The HEALS Act reduces supplemental insurance benefits by two-thirds, offers no additional aid for state or local governments, and has no calls for increased workplace safety or hazard pay.
If McConnell’s bill passes, Colorado will face a major economic crisis. Without additional aid, Colorado is projected to lose 97,100 private and public jobs by the end of 2021, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
When will we know what the Senate will do?
Hopefully before Friday August 7th, when the Senate leaves for a month long recess.
What does Senator Gardner support?
Cory Gardner has not indicated which, if any, of the COVID assistance plans he supports. Unfortunately, this means Coloradans are left in the lurch until he gets around to deciding who he represents: Coloradans or Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump.