The next COVID stimulus package may come as two proposals

Congress is approaching COVID relief with a new tactic. Lawmakers are now considering splitting a stimulus package into two proposals.

This week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, working to find common ground on pandemic relief, is hoping to break a $908 billion dollar bill-- into two.

The main piece of legislation would come in around $784 billion dollars and include the bulk of previous CARES Act programs.

Ethan Lane, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association VP of Government Affairs, says that producers need the relief.

According to Lane, “There are some important pieces in the various versions of COVID relief for ag producers, whether it’s funding fix for ag quarantine inspection shortfall that we’ve seen, tax deductibility for those PPP loans that producers have received that were really a lifeline along with the CFAP program for a lot of producers throughout the year.”

For agriculture, the bill would include $13 billion dollars for farmers and ranchers, $600 million dollars for fisheries, and another $13 billion for nutrition programs, like extended SNAP funding and a boost to the Emergency Food Assistance Program for food banks.

Another key provision would add $288 billion dollars to the Paycheck Protection Program, to keep small businesses open and provide a critical market for ag products headed to restaurants.

Sarah White, Chief Operating Officer of the Lost Dog Cafe in Virginia, says that many restaurants are struggling to keep their doors open.

“As a restaurant consultant my job used to be about running more smoothly, making money often in hopes of running in another location; over the course of the pandemic, my job has become about how to reduce costs to keep your doors open,” White states. “Unfortunately, that means reducing staff. As we all try to stay open, we’re not only having to lay off workers but reduce hours of everyone left. It’s heartbreaking to see our restaurant families torn apart as we lose people that have been with us for many years.”

The bill would also repurpose $560 billion dollars left unspent from the March CARES Act.

“There have been some good faith offers. Number one, there is a lot of unspent money that can be reprogrammed and put into circulation immediately,” Representative Rick Crawford notes.

The second piece of legislation would break out $160 billion dollars for state and local aid and add business liability protection.


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