U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Cwalks pass the Ohio Clock Corridor on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., the United States, Aug. 10, 2020.
Ting Shen | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images
The Senate will vote on a coronavirus stimulus bill as early as this week, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.
In a statement, the Kentucky Republican said the chamber aims to take up what he called a “targeted proposal, focused on some of the very most urgent healthcare, education, and economic issues.” The package would allow states to restart enhanced unemployment insurance at $300 per week through late December, authorize a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans for hard-hit small businesses and create broad liability protections for companies, NBC News reported.
It would put $105 billion toward schools, $16 billion into Covid-19 testing, $31 billion toward the development of vaccines and beefing up the strategic national stockpile, and $15 billion into childcare grants, according to NBC. It would not include another round of direct payments to individuals or more money for state and local governments.
The bill likely will not garner the 60 votes needed to get through the Senate or receive support in the Democratic-held House. In a joint statement Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said “Senate Republicans appear dead-set on another bill which doesn’t come close to addressing the problems and is headed nowhere.”
“Democrats want to work on bipartisan legislation that will meet the urgent needs of the American people but Republicans continue to move in the wrong direction,” they added later in the statement.
Democrats and the Trump administration have failed to break an impasse over coronavirus relief since talks between the sides collapsed late last month. Democratic leaders have pushed for the White House to offer at least $2.2 trillion in federal funding to boost the U.S. economy and health-care system during the pandemic. Republicans so far have not agreed to go higher than $1.3 trillion.
Congress has failed to pass a fifth coronavirus aid package even after a $600 per week extra jobless benefit, a federal moratorium on evictions and the window to apply for PPP small business loans lapsed. The expiration of those lifelines has left millions made jobless by the virus struggling to cover costs, even as the overall labor market rebounds.
Pelosi and Schumer criticized the legislation in particular because reports said it did not include relief for state and local governments, money for rental and mortgage assistance, emergency funding for the U.S. Postal Service or additional food aid.
Democrats have pushed for more than $900 billion in new aid for states and municipalities, some of which will have to cut services if they receive no more assistance. The White House, which charges that cities and states run by Democrats want funds to cover for financial mismanagement before the pandemic, has offered no more than $150 billion in new money.
The bipartisan National Governors Association has asked for at least $500 billion in relief.
Senate Republicans released their first pass at a fifth coronavirus relief package in late July. The bill, valued at roughly $1 trillion, countered the more than $3 trillion House Democratic legislation passed in May. It kick-started the stimulus negotiations, which have since made little progress.
While most GOP senators now acknowledge the need for another relief bill, some have argued against spending any more federal money at all to combat the pandemic.