Republicans Plan Scaled-Back Proposal for Virus Relief Bill

August 18, 2020by Billy House, Bloomberg News (TNS)
In this file photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to the media after weekly policy luncheons on Capitol Hill July 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. Senate Republicans are planning a scaled-back coronavirus relief bill. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans plan to introduce a scaled-back stimulus bill amid the standoff over a new virus relief plan that’s dragged on for weeks, according to two Senate Republican aides.

The legislation would include a $300 a week enhanced unemployment benefit, money for small business aid, additional U.S. Postal Service funding and protection for employers against lawsuits stemming from COVID-19 infections, according to the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan isn’t public.

The proposal would represent a slimmed-down version of the $1 trillion legislation GOP senators introduced at the end of July as a counter-point to the $3.5 trillion plan Democrats passed in the House in May.

The plan was reported earlier by Politico.

There were no immediate signs that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would call senators back from their August break to vote on it. Any legislation would need to get at least some Democratic support to get through the Senate, and that now is unlikely. The proposal also could serve as the latest Republican offer in talks on a new stimulus, which may not resume until September.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer have offered to trim their proposal by $1 trillion, but repeatedly rejected any smaller stimulus or doing a virus relief package piecemeal.

With just 78 days until the general election, President Donald Trump’s White House and congressional Republicans have been in a deadlock with Democrats over bolstering the U.S. economy with millions of people still out of work and many businesses struggling with pandemic-induced shutdowns.

That is despite warnings from Federal Reserve officials, economists, governors and mayors that, with much of the earlier stimulus exhausted, the risk to the economy grows every day that goes by without a deal.

McConnell said earlier Monday at a news conference in Kentucky that he still hopes they can cut a deal with Democrats, but didn’t offer any guarantees.

“I can’t tell you with certainty we’re going to reach an agreement,” he said.

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©2020 Bloomberg News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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