Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., unveiled Tuesday a new “targeted” COVID-19 relief bill, which he said focuses on “some of the very most urgent health care, education and economic issues.”
He said he would set up a Senate floor vote on the measure for as soon as this week.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., were quick to respond in a joint statement soon after, declaring that the GOP bill “doesn’t come close to addressing the [nation's] problems and is headed nowhere.”
McConnell conceded that the bill “does not contain every idea our party likes. I am confident Democrats will feel the same. Yet Republicans believe the many serious differences between our two parties should not stand in the way of agreeing where we can agree and making law that helps our nation.”
The Republican bill is expected to cost $500 billion to $700 billion, not the $1 trillion price tag from the original GOP measure and far from the $2.2 trillion in relief requested by Democrats.
The pared-back bill is said to likely include a $300-per-week unemployment benefit enhancement, $105 billion for schools, a $10 billion grant to the U.S. Postal Service, funding for the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, $45 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services for vaccines and testing needs, and liability protections for employers.
However, “another round of $1,200 checks to individuals — something that President Donald Trump wants — or any aid to state and local governments, a key demand of Democrats, won’t be included,” according to Bloomberg.
The GOP plan, Schumer and Pelosi said, “is laden with poison pills Republicans know Democrats would never support.”
The “emaciated” GOP bill “is only intended to help vulnerable Republican Senators by giving them a ‘check the box’ vote to maintain the appearance that they’re not held hostage by their extreme right-wing that doesn’t want to spend a nickel to help people,” Pelosi and Schumer said.
The GOP bill, the two top Democrats said, does not help state and local workers facing layoffs, feed hungry families, provide adequate funding for testing and treatment to fight the pandemic, assist renters, or help with “stopping the dismantling of the U.S. Postal system and making sure Americans can cast their ballots safely in fair elections this November.”
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