Congress returned to Washington this week to hash out a new COVID-19 stimulus bill.
Among the issues lawmakers are considering is how to proceed with jobless benefits, liability protections for businesses, and financial support to local governments.
U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, a Peoria Republican, said the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will likely get a boost, as the first round of funding runs dry for some businesses. But he said the program may look different this time.
"The biggest thing will be making sure that we are not letting in companies or businesses that don't need the money,” he said.
LaHood said the money should be prioritized for disproportionately impacted industries, like hotels, banquet halls, and restaurants that lack outdoor seating. He said he’d like to develop a formula to assess a business's losses and financial need.
Another priority for the next round of stimulus is money for businesses to cover the cost of personal protective equipment and additional cleaning protocols during the pandemic, he said.
LaHood said he also supports extending bolstered unemployment benefits past July, but not to the tune of $600 extra per week, the amount that is set to expire this week.
“Let’s cap that at $300 or $400. Let’s figure out a way that makes sense so that the people that need it can have access to that, but also we’re not prohibiting people from going back to work,” he said.
The jury's still out on another round of stimulus checks, he said, in part because much of the COVID-19 relief is going on the federal government's "credit card."
“I will not apologize for what we’ve spent to prevent the economy from imploding, from being much worse than what it was, and we did that in a bipartisan way,” said LaHood. “But moving forward, we’ve got to be concerned about the cost, and I'm not sure I've seen the justification for more direct payments to individuals.”
LaHood said those hardest hit need tobe helped first.
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