US Senate to vote on US$500b stimulus billBusiness | 18 Oct 2020 6:40 pm
The US Senate will vote on a US$500 billion coronavirus stimulus bill on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday, as a larger bipartisan deal remains elusive despite continued talks between top Democrats and the Trump administration, CNBC reports.
McConnell blamed his opponents across the political aisle for the current stalemate, arguing that the Senate has enough time to pass the Republican stimulus package and confirm Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barret if “Democrats do not obstruct this legislation.”
“Nobody thinks this $500B+ proposal would resolve every problem forever,” McConnell said in a statement on Saturday. “It would deliver huge amounts of additional help to workers and families right now while Washington keeps arguing over the rest.”
Democrats have accused McConnell of pushing ahead with Barrett’s confirmation instead of focusing on passing stimulus legislation. Democrats blocked a US$500 billion Republican plan in the Senate last month and will likely dismiss the latest Republican proposal as insufficient.
The chances of Congress passing new aid before the November 3 presidential election have dimmed as the Senate Republican plan is more limited than what the Trump administration or Democrats have proposed.
The Republican bill will include funding for schools, expanded unemployment benefits and a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program, McConnell said. The Senate will vote on the bill a day after a standalone vote on more PPP funds on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin offered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a US$1.8 trillion stimulus deal, about US$400 billion less than the bill proposed by House Democrats earlier this month.
Pelosi, whose party passed a US$2.2 trillion relief bill in the House, dismissed the White House proposal and said it “amounted to one step forward, two steps back.” Senate Republicans, on the other hand, oppose the White House package as too large.
Pelosi and Mnuchin continued their negotiations this week, though they were unable to reach an agreement. Both sides characterized the talks as productive but said major differences remain.
Congress hasn’t pushed through new relief legislation in months as the coronavirus worsens across the U.S. and millions of Americans remain unemployed.