As Congress gets closer to July, it will increase pressure on Senate leadership to address a fifth COVID-19 package. States are entering their new fiscal years on July 1, and many of those states are assuming new needed federal funding to offset the expected loss of revenue and need for health care, human services, and individual relief funding. If that does not become a reality, state and local governments will need to start laying off workers which will only make things worse across the country. In addition, some parts of the extended unemployment benefits will begin to expire, and the impact of the first four relief bills will run out. A third factor is the new increases of COVID-19 in a dozen or more states. While testing is increasing, it is clear that rates are also going up with some hospitals seeing admission dramatically rising. To this point, fatalities have not increased at the same rate, but some fear that could happen later.
A new Government Accountability Office (GAO), Opportunities to Improve Federal Response and Recovery Efforts found a number of challenges to be addressed in a future package including: an estimated 450,000 who registered their qualifying children from April 10 to May 17 but didn’t receive payments for them through the $500 per child tax payment; federal, state, and local officials were expressing concerns about the distribution, acquisition, and adequacy of critical supplies to address COID-19; and additional issues in regard to the transportation system and the state unemployment compensation systems.
The second July action by the Congress is FY 2021 appropriations. The Senate has started on their Defense bills and earlier this month Appropriations Chairperson Nita Lowey (D-NY) announce a schedule for the 12 subcommittees on appropriations: July 6 – 4:00 pm State and Foreign Operations, 6:00 pm Agriculture, and 8:00 pm Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; July 7 – 9:00 am Homeland Security, 11:00 am Interior and Environment, 1:00 pm Legislative Branch, 3:00 pm Energy and Water, and 5:00 pm Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education; and July 8 – 9:00 am Commerce, Justice, Science, 11:00 am Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, 1:00 pm Financial Services and General Government, and 3:00 pm Defense.
It is likely the 2021 appropriations will have to address some of the pandemic’s long-term impacts, but it is not yet clear how Congress will address the last year of the 2010 budget caps.