Lawmakers are still at an impasse over the next relief package with the election less than three weeks away. In an effort to break the deadlock, the Senate is scheduled to vote (revote) on a smaller coronavirus relief bill, which will not include stimulus checks.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he is scheduling a procedural vote next week on a GOP coronavirus relief bill. This GOP bill will focus on supporting the hard-hit businesses.
“Democrats have spent months blocking policies they do not even oppose. They say anything short of their multi-trillion-dollar wish list, jammed with non-COVID-related demands, is ‘piecemeal’ and not worth doing,” McConnell said in a statement.
Speaking at an event in his home state, McConnell said the "targeted relief” would include funding for schools, unemployment insurance boost, as well as liability protections for businesses.
This vote on a scaled-down proposal comes as a surprise because negotiations are still ongoing over the broader package. Most recently, President Trump raised the offer from $1.6 trillion to $1.8 trillion. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected it, calling it "inadequate" to meet the needs of Americans.
Earlier last month, Democrats rejected the GOP’s scaled-back aid bill costing about $500 billion. This time also the vote on a scaled-down coronavirus relief bill, which doesn’t include stimulus checks, is unlikely to result into anything.
Will Democrats and Trump support it?
Democrats may not support it again, and with the election close, there isn’t enough time left to start fresh negotiations. Moreover, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi previously said that she won’t accept standalone bills without a guarantee from the White House on a larger bill.
McConnell, however, says the Senate would have enough time to pass two legislations – confirming Supreme Court nominee and pass the relief proposal, "unless Democrats block this aid for workers."
Also, McConnell says that PPP is a popular program that has saved millions of jobs. McConnell said PPP is bipartisan as its first round was “replenished and extended several times” with the unanimous consent of both the Senate and the House.
“But it has become yet another casualty of Democrats' all-or-nothing obstruction,” he said.
McConnell’s announcement to vote on the slimmed down proposal follows a call from White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to pass legislation that allows the use of unused PPP funds (about $130 billion). Also, Trump yesterday said that he is not in favor of a piecemeal approach.
“Go big or go home,” Trump tweeted.
As per a report from Politico, Pelosi reportedly told House Democrats that she doesn’t intend to support the new $500 billion GOP offer. Senate Democratic Whip Richard Durbin believes that McConnell’s approach is different from that of Trump. Durbin said this wouldn’t have happened if Trump and McConnell were speaking to one another and agreed on a common approach.