Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that the Senate will vote on a GOP proposal for coronavirus relief on Thursday. This will be the first formal vote of the Senate on more sweeping coronavirus relief since March.
“The Senate is going to vote on this targeted proposal. We’re going to get the stonewalling of Democratic leaders out from behind closed doors and put this to a vote out here on the floor,” McConnell said during his floor remarks Tuesday. “Senators will not be voting on whether this package satisfies every one of their legislative hopes and dreams. That is not what we do in this chamber.”
Although the new proposal is meant as a more “targeted” approach to COVID-19 relief, and is expected to cost less than McConnell’s previous $1 trillion proposal, the HEALS act. A copy of the bill text obtained by ABC News shows that the slimmed-down proposal includes $105 billion for schools and a two-year tax credit for school choice, as well as $29 billion for vaccines and $16 billion for testing.
The proposal would also provide additional funding for the paycheck protection program with the possibility of loan forgiveness for small businesses. Unemployment benefits of $300 a week to individuals who have lost their jobs will also be considered as part of this proposal. Currently, many are receiving these benefits due to executive action by President Donald Trump, though funding for that program could soon run out.
Democrats for weeks have decried any sort of “piecemeal” approach to COVID-19 relief. Pelosi called the previous $1 trillion proposal “anorexic.” And in a letter to his caucus on Thursday, Schumer shut down any hope of Democratic support of the proposal McConnell introduced Tuesday.
Democrats are continuing to dig in on their $3 trillion relief plan, the HEROES Act, that is a non-starter for the administration or Republicans. In negotiations between Pelosi, Schumer and members of the Trump administration, the Democrats said they offered to lower their proposal to $2 trillion. Republicans said that price was still far too high and some members are reluctant to authorize any additional spending on the crisis, citing concern about the sky-high deficit.
Trump, during a news conference Monday, said that he believes Pelosi and Schumer are disinterested in reaching a deal. “Let me just tell you, I know my customers, that’s what I do. I know Pelosi, I know Schumer very well,” Trump said. “They don’t wanna make a deal, because they think it’s good for politics if they don’t make a deal. This has nothing to do with anything other than you have to know who you’re dealing with. I do.”
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