by Dana George | Sept. 8, 2020
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Here's what we know about the proposal, which the Senate is expected to vote on this week.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday announced the GOP's revised plan for a second coronavirus relief bill. After weeks of stalled talks, interrupted by a Congressional holiday, legislators seem no closer to passing another stimulus bill -- and McConnell's proposed aid package, which is many times smaller than what Democrats have put forward, is unlikely to pass the House of Representatives.
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While we don't have an exact number, McConnell's current proposal falls far short of the $2.2 trillion in federal funding Democratic leaders have said will be necessary to get the U.S. economy and healthcare system back on track.
It appears that McConnell wants a package closer to the $500 billion mark. If that sounds low, it's because the GOP had, at one point, agreed to spend as much as $1.3 trillion. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi referred to McConnell's latest proposal as "pathetic," vowing to get more money to the American people.
Here's what we know about the $500 billion package. It prioritizes aid to small businesses, sends money to childcare programs and schools, and increases coronavirus testing. It also shields businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits and forgives a $10 billion CARES Act loan to the U.S. Postal Service. McConnell does not include funds for cities and states or a second round of stimulus checks for American families. Although he offered only a rough outline, McConnell described his new, pared-down bill as a "targeted proposal."
McConnell's proposal also includes a $300-per-week unemployment enhancement, to be added to standard state-provided benefits. If passed by Congress, it would take the place of President Trump's current executive order regarding enhanced unemployment benefits.
Even as he made the announcement, McConnell must have known that his version of the stimulus package would not pass the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. Not only are Democrats fighting for a much larger infusion of funds, but members of McConnell's own party have abandoned ship, with some Republicans hoping to see more direct aid to their constituents and others wanting to put a stop to all additional aid.
Still, Tuesday's announcement served at least a political purpose. By cutting the House's version of the CARES Act by billions of dollars and vowing to put his skinny version to a vote later this week, McConnell provoked a response from Democrats. Shortly after Democratic leaders reacted to his proposal, McConnell said of the opposition party, "They have taken Americans' health, jobs, and schools hostage for perceived partisan gain."
As political leaders jockey for position going into the November elections, the American people can only continue to hope for signs that assistance is on the way.
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