Indiana Senator Todd Young says he still expects a deal on a new round of federal pandemic assistance but says it may take a few weeks.
Congress is in recess but could return on 24 hours’ notice if there’s a deal. Young says there are still discussions going on, but acknowledges there are still significant “friction points” preventing an agreement. Young accuses Democrats of being unwilling to compromise, while some Senate Republicans have refused to support even their party’s version because of spending concerns.
Indiana’s other senator, Mike Braun, hasn’t gone as far as some Republicans in opposing another round of relief but has said the trillion-dollar price tag on the Senate version is too high.
Young says he wants a narrowly-focused bill that makes the top priorities a safe return to school, virus testing and other health care concerns, and jobs.
Young says the bill needs to include liability protection for employers. He says there could be provisions to allow lawsuits over gross negligence in keeping workers and customers safe, but says some businesses don’t dare reopen for fear one infection could subject them to lawsuits.
And Young is adamant that a now-expired 600-dollar add-on to weekly unemployment benefits is too high and shouldn’t be revived at that level. Republicans argue that benefit is so high that it was more profitable for some people to stay home and collect it than to return to work. Young suggests one possible compromise might allow workers to continue drawing a portion of that add-on as a paycheck supplement even after landing a job.
Young notes the Republican bill includes funding for the Postal Service, but for coronavirus-related expenses like masks and sanitizer. He maintains the post office has the resources it needs to handle increased mail-in voting, just as it handles the annual flood of Christmas cards and packages. The Democratic House briefly returned from recess to approve 25-billion dollars in extra funding for the Postal Service after widespread reports of delivery slowdowns. The Senate hasn’t taken up the bill yet.
44 states will allow any registered voter to cast a ballot by mail. Indiana isn’t among them, but Secretary of State Connie Lawson said last week she expects as many as a third of Indiana’s ballots to be cast by mail under existing eligibility rules.