The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions panel hearing comes as several states are struggling to contain the virus as cases continue to rise across the nation and states begin to reopen. The US reported more than 40,000 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, its biggest daily jump yet.
More than half of all states are seeing a rise in cases, and Florida, Texas and Arizona are getting particularly hard hit. Texas has begun scaling back its reopening, and beaches in Florida are closed for the upcoming holiday weekend.
Fauci and Redfield testified before lawmakers last week, when Fauci said “we’re going to be doing more testing, not less,” in response to President Donald Trump’s recent claim that he asked his administration to slow down testing during the pandemic.
Senators have been weighing up another stimulus package in recent weeks as unemployment numbers remain worrisome and economic hardship stemming from pandemic persists. Republicans remain divided on the size and scale of the next stimulus bill and while it has been discussed for months, the next phase of economic relief is still weeks away. But there is now a broad agreement something has to be done – something that has not always been the case.
In Capitol Hill’s last round of aid, Congress boosted unemployment checks by $ 600 a week and added 13 weeks of pay, beyond what states offer. The additional money will expire on July 31 without congressional action, but the 13-week extension will remain in place until the end of the year. A second round of stimulus payments is on the negotiating table in Washington, but some of the 160 million Americans who got money for the first time could be left out, according to a more targeted approach the administration is pushing for.
Republicans have zeroed in on the last week of July to reach agreement on the next round of legislative stimulus. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been adamant for weeks on that timeline and the administration is on board.