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Congress Debates Coronavirus Relief Package As Eviction Moratorium Set To Expire

The individual benefits of the CARES Act have run their course since the COVID relief bill’s passage back in March. In addition to business and corporate aid, the bill provided Americans with a one-time payment of $1,200 and a $600 weekly enhancement to state-issued unemployment benefits. The enhancement expired in July, and a CDC-ordered federal eviction moratorium is scheduled to expire on Dec. 31.

Congress has been debating a second COVID relief bill since the summer, and last week a $908 billion bipartisan House bill was presented. Newly sworn-in Democratic Senator Mark Kelly spoke to the gravity of passing a relief bill with The Show last week:

“The economic fallout from this is significant," Kelly said. "And right now it’s up to the federal government to provide this much needed relief. I mean, cases are rising. There is an urgent, an urgent need. And folks in Arizona are getting by on $240 a week, and we need to extend unemployment benefits.”

Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar spoke about the provisions in a COVID relief bill he supports:

“I think the targeting of the PPP funding for the small businesses. Not the large businesses — we tailor that. There’s also a bunch of money out there in regards to the governors of states that came with the original CARES package and we need them to move it forward. The other thing is, I’m not real fond of really boosting up the unemployment benefit like they did, $600 per week, in earlier bills. I would look kind of a slimmed-down, targeted incentive package to families," Gosar said.

Gosar says he would support a smaller amount of money used as a boost in unemployment benefits.

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell killed the House bill on arrival because he felt it didn’t provide adequate liability protection for schools and businesses against claims of negligence in preventing COVID transmission.

Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko, also a Republican, echoed those concerns:

“If a small business or a school is doing everything in their power, in good faith, to protect people from getting coronavirus, and somebody gets coronavirus, they shouldn’t be sued for it," Lesko said. "It’s hard for businesses to stay afloat thinking they are going to get sued and then get totally put out of business.”

A bipartisan group of senators is expected to introduce a relief bill today that would combine a $748 billion relief package with $160 billion for local governments, and would include liability protections.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.