The U.S. Senate is scheduled to return to work on Dec. 1, but that doesn't necessarily mean that any work will be done. It has been six months since Congress passed the HEROES Act, which would continue to help the country as it tip-toes through the minefield that is 2020.
State and municipal governments are already predicting massive cuts will be necessary to make it through the end of the pandemic and its aftermath. According to Axios, Wall Street is now also starting to panic.
"What I can't figure out is what is going to need to happen to kind of light a fire under Congress to actually compromise and get something done," Axios quoted Charles Schwab chief investment strategist Liz Ann Sonders.
The two sides seem hung up on a main point in the COVID-19 stimulus bill that would allow corporations to escape liability if require their staff to work in unsafe conditions without the necessary protective equipment. It's a problem that has surfaced especially in meatpacking plants, where at least 8 percent of the coronavirus outbreak spread. According to reports, even those numbers downplay the likely higher infection rate.
"Around half of them were employed by JBS, Smithfield, Tyson, or Cargill, the four industry giants collectively responsible for more than 80% of the meat consumed in the US. At least 200 workers have died," according to stats from a watchdog group cited by BuzzFeed.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) won't compromise on the idea that these companies would be held accountable for spreading COVID-19. He's demanding that they have a five-year protection against any lawsuits if they knowingly spread the coronavirus and refuse to provide safe and sanitary conditions for workers. Democrats drew a line because meatpacking plants, in particular, should probably have some safeguards in place given they're sending food around the world.
"A pre-Thanksgiving data dump showed more evidence of a floundering economic recovery," Axios reported. "But the slow drip of crumbling economic data may not be enough to push Washington past a gridlock to halt the economic backslide."
Sanders wondered what the "spark is going to be in the economic data or in the stock market" to light a fire under McConnell. While small businesses may be filing for bankruptcy in droves, the stock market is doing well. So, it appears the president and the GOP have little incentive to move forward on a stimulus bill.
The November jobs report, which will be out later this week, is expected to show an added 433,000 payrolls. In normal times that would be a solid number, but compared to the massive unemployment rate, that number shows that things have slowed.
"There’s nearly no hope of additional support before year-end, and the current safety nets are set to expire," Axios lamented.