On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled a new proposal for a scaled-down coronavirus relief package. But it’s unclear how much support the bill will receive even within McConnell’s Republican Party. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have already pounced on the proposal, deeming it an “emaciated” version of their own, more costly pandemic aid bill.
Will we ever see a second relief bill?
Congress has tried and failed to pass a second coronavirus relief package ever since its first bipartisan measure, the CARES Act, passed in March. The Democratically-controlled House of Representatives has already approved its version of a second relief package, but negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House have continuously stalled, mostly because of the price tag. The House bill (The HEROES Act), has a $3 billion budget for a variety of relief measures, though White House negotiators have said they will not sign-off on anything over $1 trillion.
McConnell’s new plan includes more money for the Paycheck Protection Program, a popular loan program that helped small businesses keep employees on the payroll early in the pandemic. It also includes some funding for schools and for the U.S. Postal Service.
The plan is slated to get a Senate vote as early as this week, but its chances of progressing are slim, particularly with a lack of Democratic support. Still, McConnell views the bill not as a cure-all for the social, economic, and health crises spawned by COVID-19. Rather, he thinks it will help stimulate the economy for the time-being, while lawmakers continue to deliberate over longer-term solutions.
“We want to agree where a bipartisan agreement is possible, get more help out the door and keep arguing over the rest later,” McConnell argued on the Senate Floor on Monday. “That’s how you legislate. That’s how you make law.”
“It’s not a sweeping, multi-trillion dollar plan to rebuild the entire country in Republican’s image,” the Kentucky Senator explained. “It does not even contain every single relief policy that Republicans ourselves think would help in the short term. I am confident the Democrats would feel the same. But the American people don’t need us to keep arguing over what might be perfect. They need us to actually make a law.”