Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Report: Oversight and Implementation Will Determine the Effectiveness of Congress’ Coronavirus Packages
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Report: Oversight and Implementation Will Determine the Effectiveness of Congress’ Coronavirus Packages

Washington, D.C. — Over the past two months, Congress has passed a historic series of coronavirus relief packages. While the size and scope of the packages would have been unimaginable prior to March 2020, it is becoming increasingly clear that, as the packages stand, they will not achieve their intended purpose of addressing the public health crisis while alleviating the economic catastrophe. And while the interim emergency legislative package that passed this week did provide needed support for hospitals, testing, and small lenders, it did not address the core areas where the administration’s implementation has fallen short.

A new analysis from the Center for American Progress identifies areas for concern as the federal government implements the first three packages. It also makes policy recommendations to address those concerns, with the goal of increasing the efficacy and responsiveness of the existing packages and laying the groundwork for meaningful future legislative packages. The report details three broad areas for concern:

  • First, the complexity of many of the programs is making them difficult to implement in a timely manner. Not only are individuals and businesses struggling to obtain the benefits they are entitled to, but government agencies are also unable to meet the surge in demand for their programs.
  • Second, lack of oversight and accountability of the programs created or expanded by legislation opens the door to misuse and corruption.
  • Third, many of the country’s most vulnerable populations were excluded by design from the first three packages and can be further left out by their implementation. Their needs must be addressed in subsequent legislation.

In addition to outlining guidance for implementation and oversight, the report also offers the following key recommendations for lawmakers:

  • Congress should allocate funding to update outdated state unemployment systems, which are preventing people from having their benefit applications processed in a timely manner.
  • The Department of Labor is leaving millions of workers unaware of their eligibility for paid leave by failing its outreach and enforcement obligations.
  • While Congress took an important step this week to provide additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, more money is needed for small businesses. Additional legislative fixes are needed to ensure that funds reach small, struggling firms in a timely manner.
  • More oversight is needed for the funds allocated for hospitals and health care providers. As it stands,  Health and Human Services Secretary  has vast discretion to spend the money, creating a potential for widespread abuse.
  • Congress should mandate more oversight for the $400 billion that can be used to rescue large corporations. The Treasury Department should not be allowed to waive limits on buybacks, dividends, golden parachutes, and layoffs by recipients.

“Congress’ first three coronavirus package were an important step in the right direction, said Lily Roberts, director of Economic Mobility at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the report. “Still, the country’s public health and economic recovery hinge on the effectiveness of Congress’ response. As the existing packages stand, they are not adequate to meet the moment. Lawmakers need to enact a more robust fourth package that is focused on providing aid for the communities, small businesses, and state and local governments that are facing the greatest challenges. At the same time, Congress must enact strong oversight mechanisms for the first three packages to ensure that they are working as intended.”

Read: Oversight and Implementation Will Determine the Effectiveness of the New Laws Responding to Coronavirus” by the Center for American Progress

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Julia Cusick at jcusick@americanprogress.org.

To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, visit our coronavirus resource page.