DC Tax Flash: Little Progress So Far on Unemployment Benefits and HEALS Act Negotiations

Tax Alert

With the extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits expiring today, party leaders in Congress remain far apart in negotiations on both a phase-four coronavirus relief package and the possibility of passing a stand-alone extension of unemployment benefits.

Democrats want to keep the $600 federal bonus added to state unemployment benefits for six more months. Republicans are looking at ways to reduce the bonus so that recipients do not get payments in excess of their regular wages.

Attempts to force action on the issue failed yesterday in the Senate. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) sought to pass their bill to extend a reduced federal bonus payment through the year. Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) also sought passage of her bill to extend the current $600 bonus for another week. Democrats objected to separate unanimous consent requests to approve each bill.

Next week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is planning to restart debate on the issue with a base bill on unemployment benefits that is open to amendment by Democrats and Republicans. 

Little visible progress has been made on the larger package of federal relief unveiled by Senate Republicans on Monday as the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act. 

The HEALS Act was rolled out as eight separate bills. More information on each legislative piece of the HEALS Act is posted below:

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