Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Senate Introduces “Skinny” COVID-19 Relief Bill

In response to mounting pressure from the House to negotiate over additional COVID-19 relief, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act – a draft “skinny” proposal of their previously announced July 27 proposal, the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protections & Schools Act (HEALS Act)

The $500 billion measure includes employer liability protections, small business support, limited extension of unemployment insurance, limited money for schools and vaccine development. Of note, the bill would convert the $10 billion line of credit for the Postal Service approved by the CARES Act earlier this year into a grant to be accessed once Postal Service cash on hand dips below $8 billion.

The inclusion comes following significant mail delays reported nationwide and mounting pressure on senators to address postal relief and nearly three months following House passage of the HEROES Act, which provides $25 billion in direct appropriations to help USPS weather the financial crisis brought on by the pandemic, in addition to the removal of restrictions placed in the CARES Act on the $10 billion in added USPS borrowing authority from the U.S. Treasury. Also included in the package is the creation of a ”Heroes Fund,” which would provide hazard pay of $13 per hour premium pay on top of regular wages up to $10,000 for essential front-line workers, including letter carriers and other postal employees.

Aside from the inadequate response to postal relief, the skinny Senate measure does nothing to help 28 million Americans on unemployment, provides no money for testing, hospitals, rental assistance, eviction moratoriums, state and local governments whose budgets are exhausted, state nutrition assistance programs and underfunded schools, to name a few.

The announcement of the skinny proposal has done nothing to bring House, Senate and the administration back to the negotiating table to discuss a relief package. It is expected that both chambers will punt additional discussion until after the Labor Day recess in September, when they will work to on funding the federal government beyond Sept. 30.

NALC will monitor these negotiations and continue to advocate for relief, service, hazard pay and favorable terms and conditions.


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