The elements of CARES 2, the next big coronavirus response bill, are finally emerging from the Democratic Congress, where at least the horrendous scope and urgency of the emergency seems to be recognized even if it's not accompanied by urgency. It is reportedly aiming at another $2 trillion: "billions of dollars more to expand coronavirus testing, unemployment benefits, small business loans and aid for state and local governments."
The encouraging part: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "and other lawmakers voiced support for including in the next package $2,000 in recurring monthly payments for Americans," which might be the single most important thing they could do. Additionally, The Hill reports that Pelosi and team have prioritized vote-by-mail, funding for the U.S. Postal Service, broadband infrastructure, and worker protections. Rep. Maxine Waters says she's ready "to fight till hell freezes over" to include $100 billion in rental assistance and an eviction moratorium, while Reps. Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are arguing for cancellation of rent and mortgage payments for the duration of the pandemic.
The less-than-good part comes from Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who says: "We want to move ahead on a bipartisan fashion. The first thing that's going to be necessary is for us to have a package on which we have agreement in the Democratic Caucus. […] We are getting very close to having that." It doesn't need to be bipartisan. It needs to help all of the people and do all of the things. Give the people what they want and what they need, dump it on McConnell's desk, and dare him to tell the American people they aren't worth bailing out while he tries to argue for protecting the corporations.
If Hoyer and the moderates have their way, we're going to see things like more money poured into what has proven to be the flawed Payment Protection Program (PPP), the small business loans. Two of Hoyer's pals in the would-be Blue Dog camp have teamed up with a couple of Republicans on the brilliant idea of allowing local chambers of commerce to qualify for those PPP loans because, in the words of freshman Democrat Gil Cisneros, they have been "reeling from the effects of the coronavirus and are in desperate need of relief." As if they're essential services.
A far better idea than the PPP, which should be shuttered at this point, is Rep. Pramila Jayapal's Paycheck Guarantee Act, that would help businesses not have to lay off workers by covering 100% of wages for people earning up to $100,000; keep employees enrolled in employer-sponsored benefits; and provide funds to retroactively cover payrolls so that employers can bring back recently laid-off or furloughed workers. This would ensure that the money being spent by Congress actually goes to helping businesses stay solvent and getting their workers paid. That was purportedly the aim of the PPP, but for a variety of reasons that's not what it's done for far too many small businesses.
This next bill has to be the people's bailout. That will do more to save the small businesses than loans they may never be able to meet the criteria for or repay.
To keep up with what's been done so far, here's a primer on bills passed thus far.