Republicans in Congress are eyeing an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), more direct payments and liability insurance for businesses and schools, Congressman Patrick McHenry told franchise owners affiliated with Realogy on a company call, Friday.

Congressman Patrick McHenry | Photo credit: Office of Congressman Patrick McHenry

McHenry, the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee and a former real estate broker, told Realogy CEO Ryan Schneider that, in any new stimulus package, Republicans want to include an additional $200 billion to $240 billion for PPP, as well as rental assistance or payments.

“If you have folks that are getting generous payments, they should be able to make their mortgage, they should be able to make payments on their rent,” McHenry said.

One thing Republicans are pushing for is liability insurance for businesses and schools, as they look to get more people back to work, even at a time when new cases of COVID-19 continue to surge across the country. Liability insurance was not included in the original CARES Act stimulus package, passed in late March.

Liability insurance could allow schools and businesses to gain protection from lawsuits if workers or students contract COVID-19.

“The reason that this is important is that we need people to be able to get confidently back to work and business to function,” McHenry said. “We know that businesses and educational institutions are making the best decisions that they possibly can with the information they have with the health science they have.”

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed, in May, the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which extended many of the provisions of the CARES Act, including the additional unemployment benefits, until 2021. The bill also included an additional direct payment, money for COVID-19 treatment and funds for elections.

McHenry has criticized the HEROES Act in the past, calling it a, “progressive wish list that stands no chance of becoming law.”

The Republican-controlled Senate, however, is currently working on introducing the CARES Act 2, after not taking up the HEROES Act for a vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the legislation could be introduced early next week, according to CNBC. 

The two sides will likely continue to debate specifics of additional stimulus legislation until they can reach a compromise that will pass both the House and Senate.

Schneider and McHenry also discussed the changes that the economy has undergone since COVID-19 hit the country, specifically the digitization of many processes, including some in the real estate industry.

“One thing that’s missing [from discussions about the economy] is how quickly we’ve revolutionized digital engagement rather than physical presence,” McHenry said. “We’re doing Microsoft Teams or Zoom, or Webex.”

“You also see people willing to buy a house without stepping foot in that house,” McHenry added. “That, to me, blows my mind.”

Email Patrick Kearns

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