UPDATED 11:44 AM PT — Monday, July 20, 2020
Congress is gearing up for a busy week ahead while taking extra precautions to convene safely amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Lawmakers returned from the Fourth of July recess Monday and will consider a list of high-profile cases.
On Wednesday, Democrats in the House plan to move forward with a bill proposing the removal of Confederate statues from the capitol, although the Republican-led Senate is unlikely to take up the legislation.
Both the House and Senate also plan to continue work on their versions of the annual National Defense Authorization Act with the House beginning talks Monday.
Additionally, Democrats in the Senate are advocating for the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which aims to protect minority voters in honor of the late civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis. Authors of the bill said they plan to introduce the legislation this week.
The biggest topic this week is expected to be the fifth economic stimulus package. Lawmakers have just a few weeks to pass the more than $1 trillion proposed legislation as a second summer recess quickly approaches.
In the Republican proposal, lawmakers hope to provide a cash incentive for employees to return to work as the weekly $600 unemployment bonus is set to expire at the end of this month.
Their proposal could also include another round of stimulus payments, an extension of the Paychecks Protection Program and liability protections for businesses and schools. Senate Republicans will be unveiling their proposed version of the bill as soon as Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Democrats outline a different set of priorities in their $3 trillion Heroes Act, which passed in the House in May. That bill calls for more money to state and local governments as well as boosted unemployment benefits.
With the vast differences between each party’s proposals, successfully passing a bipartisan fifth stimulus package before legislators go on recess is expected to be a major challenge.