On The Money: GOP mulls short-term unemployment extension | White House, Senate GOP strike deal on $16B for coronavirus testing

On The Money: GOP mulls short-term unemployment extension | White House, Senate GOP strike deal on $16B for coronavirus testing
© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Happy Wednesday and welcome back to On The Money. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

See something I missed? Let me know at slane@thehill.com or tweet me @SylvanLane. And if you like your newsletter, you can subscribe to it here: http://bit.ly/1NxxW2N.

Write us with tips, suggestions and news: slane@thehill.com, njagoda@thehill.com and nelis@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @SylvanLane, @NJagoda and @NivElis.


THE BIG DEAL — GOP mulls short-term unemployment extension: Republicans and the White House are discussing a short-term extension of enhanced unemployment benefits. 

Two GOP senators confirmed the discussions, though key details like the length of the extension and the price are in flux.

How to address unemployment has been a sticking point for Republicans as they try to draft their own coronavirus relief proposal. The country’s unemployment rate is currently at 11.1 percent as millions have been out of work because of the pandemic.

  • As part of a March coronavirus relief package, Congress passed a $600 per week federal increase of unemployment benefits. 
  • But that enhancement is set to expire next week — likely before negotiators are able to reach a deal on and pass another coronavirus package.
  • Economists have warned that without further support for unemployment benefits, the nascent recovery from the coronavirus recession will fall apart amid rising cases across the country.

The Hill’s Jordain Carney has more here.

The battle over how to extend enhanced unemployment benefits comes amid a broader debate among Republicans over how much money the U.S. should spend on another round of coronavirus response and economic relief.

The variety of proposals now being pushed by the Trump administration, GOP lawmakers and Democrats could easily push the new coronavirus relief bill beyond the $2 trillion mark, lawmakers and aides acknowledge.


The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports that McConnell is trying to get out in front of what he fears could be a spending frenzy with a firm cap on the size of the package, according to Republican senators who attended a Tuesday briefing by the GOP leader and senior administration officials.

  • The message from the GOP leader is that lawmakers will have to pick and choose among their top priorities and not simply cram in all that they can to ensure speedy passage of a bill that pleases everyone.
  • But the debate over what to include in the legislation and what to set aside is already opening up divisions between the White House and GOP lawmakers within the Senate Republican Conference.

See more here.

A little bit of progress: Despite the overall struggle to reach a deal, the White House and a key group of Senate GOP negotiators struck an agreement on Wednesday for new coronavirus testing funds.

The forthcoming proposal, text of which is expected to be released Thursday, will provide $16 billion in new funding for coronavirus testing, Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSunday shows - Health officials warn pandemic is 'going to get worse' Republican inaugural ceremonies chairman: I hope the president attends Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE (R-Mo.), one of the negotiators, told reporters.

More on that here.



Progressive leaders demand homeland security bill be pulled: The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) on Wednesday called on Democratic House leadership to pull the controversial homeland security appropriations bill from consideration on the House floor next week.

"Without the inclusion of additional necessary reforms, we believe that the Democratic Leadership should not attempt to pass Homeland Security funding by tying it to essential coronavirus research, education, and housing funding," CPC co-chairs Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalInequality of student loan debt underscores possible Biden policy shift Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks MORE (D-Wash.) and Mark PocanMark William PocanCapitol's COVID-19 spike could be bad Thanksgiving preview Katherine Clark secures No. 4 leadership spot for House Democrats Democrats to determine leaders after disappointing election MORE (D-Wis.) said in a joint statement.

The Hill’s Niv Elis explains here.


Homes sales jump more than 20 percent in June: Sales of existing homes rose more than 20 percent in June after three straight months of declines amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to data released Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).


Completed sales of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops rose 20.7 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.72 million, the NAR reported, as the loosening of coronavirus-related restrictions spurred a sharp rebound in the housing market.

“The sales recovery is strong, as buyers were eager to purchase homes and properties that they had been eyeing during the shutdown,” said Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist. “This revitalization looks to be sustainable for many months ahead as long as mortgage rates remain low and job gains continue.”

I explain why here.

  • The U.S. economy began to recover in May and June from the shock of the first wave of novel coronavirus infections and the business closures imposed to contain them.
  • Even so, the damaged state of the economy and the rising risks of another downturn has restrained an already meager supply of available homes, driving prices higher.
  • The median price for all existing homes in June was $295,300, according to the NAR, up 3.5 percent from June 2019.

The dangers: Rising housing prices were a dire issue facing low-income Americans before the coronavirus pandemic shattered the U.S. economy and pose a growing threat as the recovery from the first wave begins to teeter.

Tens of millions of Americans could face eviction or foreclosure on their homes when a federal moratorium expires at the end of July and the $600 boost weekly boost to unemployment benefits runs out without a replacement.






  • The Senate Homeland Security Committee unanimously advanced a bill Wednesday to ban TikTok from government devices.
  • The House on Wednesday approved a major public lands conservation bill, sending it to the White House where President Trump is expected to sign it into law.
  • Bipartisan federal, state, and local officials on Wednesday threw support behind Congress sending states more funds to address election challenges, such as increased mail-in voting, during the COVID-19 pandemic.