WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The U.S. Senate plans to vote on a trimmed-down Republican backed coronavirus relief package Thursday, but it won’t include another round of $1,200 direct payments.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the approximately $300 billion measure as senators returned to Washington for an abbreviated pre-election session as Democrats insist on more sweeping aid. McConnell had previously advocated for a $1 trillion bill in July.
McConnell called the package “a targeted proposal that focuses on several of the most urgent aspects of this crisis, the issues where bipartisanship should be especially possible.”
“We think people are hurting, and congress should do its job,” said McConnell.
They included school aid, new money for vaccines and testing, and a second round of the popular Paycheck Protection Program for smaller businesses.
But it won’t contain another round of $1,200 direct payments going out under Trump’s name. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi continues to demand a package totaling $2.2 trillion.
Democrats are demanding a larger bill, including hundreds of billions of dollars for state and local governments, more generous jobless benefits, and help for renters and homeowners, along with other provisions in the House Democrats’ $3.5 billion relief bill that passed in May.
McConnell’s move Tuesday would clear the way for a Thursday test vote in which Democrats are likely to block the legislation. Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the bill “doesn’t come close to addressing the problems and is headed nowhere.”
“Why are we going so small when the needs are so big in our country?” said Rep. Eric Swalell (D-CA). He says the urgency of the moment demands a larger stimulus bill than what Senator McConnell outlined.
The Associated McConnell’s bill would provide $105 billion to help schools reopen, enact a shield against lawsuits for businesses and others that are powering ahead to reopen, create a scaled-back $300-per-week supplemental jobless benefit, and write off $10 billion in earlier debt at the U.S. Postal Service. There’s $31 billion for a coronavirus vaccine, $16 billion for virus testing and $15 billion to help child care providers reopen. There is additionally $20 billion for farmers.
The package will also include a school choice initiative sought by Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz and others that would provide a tax break, for two years, for people who donate to nonprofit organizations offering private school scholarships.
It would also provide for a $258 billion second round of paycheck protection subsidies.
The Senate returned Tuesday to resume its diet of judicial and administration nominations. The House doesn’t come back until Sept. 14 for a schedule filled with lower-profile measures such as clean energy legislation and a bill to decriminalize marijuana. Some Democrats are expected to continue to take advantage of remote voting and may not return to Washington at all.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.