What a COVID-19 relief package could mean for Louisiana

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WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 29: U.S. President Donald Trump’s name appears on the coronavirus economic assistance checks that were sent to citizens across the country April 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. The initial 88 million payments totaling nearly $158 billion were sent by the Treasury Department last week as most of the country remains under stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Capitol Hill lawmakers are watching the clock as they look to score another COVID-19 relief measure by the end of 2020. And Louisiana business leaders are keeping close eyes as well.

Among the list of proposals gaining traction: a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program, which would lend businesses money for staff and supplies.

“With them having to operate under limited capacity and limited traffic in their stores, any help right now is needed,” said David Zoller, government relations manager with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.

Congress is also proposing aid for jobless Americans. One idea winning support would add $300 to unemployment checks for 10 weeks.

But one item not as popular in ongoing relief talks — direct stimulus payments, like the $1,200 checks Americans received earlier this year.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) argues Louisiana has too much at stake to reject a plan now.

“Some folks are saying, ‘It doesn’t include this or it doesn’t include that, so I’m not going to vote for it,’” Cassidy told CNBC on Monday. “I’m thinking, wait a second. You’re telling me that because everybody doesn’t get everything, nobody gets anything?”

Failure to pass a relief package by year’s end would mean the return of student loan payments, as well as evictions for those who can’t afford rent due to the pandemic.

“The sooner people can get money in their pockets, the more it will help them,” Zoller said. “Until we get to that point, we’re in this state of limbo.”

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