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Congress returns on Monday, July 20, and a rush to pass a Phase 4 coronavirus (COVID-19) relief bill is expected. Monday or Tuesday Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to unveil the Republican alternative to the $3.5 trillion bill the House passed in May. While there have been no direct negotiations, ideas have been exchanged in the press and some behind the scenes talks at the staff level.

With Thursday's new unemployment claim holding at around 1.3 million, and 17 weeks above 1 million; a primary focus will be the $600 a week supplemental unemployment benefit that was created in the CARES Act in March.

It expires on July 31, and while Republicans had opposed renewal there appears to be a consensus emerging that a total cutoff could have dire consequences but also agreement that $600 may be too high a benefit level. A lower weekly unemployment benefit may be partially offset with a second round of stimulus payments.

House Democrats didn't include any business liability protection in their legislation while Republicans have called it a red line in the upcoming legislation. Expect House Speaker Pelosi to make an agreement on this issue which could include some stronger provisions to help OSHA enforce workplace safety standards. Small business could be he...

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