Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he is in discussions with the White House on a new targeted COVID-19 relief package that he and fellow Republicans believe President Donald Trump will sign into law.
“We just don’t have time to waste time,” McConnell told reporters of the revised proposal after meeting with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
For months, he has been pushing a $500 billion approach that Democrats rejected as insufficient.
“We have a couple of weeks left here. Obviously, it does require bipartisan support to get out of Congress, but it requires a presidential signature. And this government is in place for sure for the next month. And I think the place to start is: Are we actually making a law or are we just making a point?” he said.
McConnell said he and Mnuchin discussed in detail what provisions they thought Trump would accept, and circulated a revised outline to Republican senators on Tuesday.
According to a copy of the draft proposal (pdf) obtained by Axios, it would establish additional funding for the small-business Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and would implement widespread liability protections.
The outline proposes $332.7 billion in new loans or grants to small businesses including $257.7 billion for PPP, a $10 billion Treasury loan to the U.S. Postal Service, $105 billion to “help get students back in school” and to provide resources for continued learning, $16 billion for testing, contact tracing, and surveillance in states, $31 billion for COVID-19 vaccine, therapeutic and diagnostic development, COVID-19 vaccine distribution, the Strategic National Stockpile, and grants for state stockpiles.
It also proposes $20 billion of additional farm assistance, $500 million of federal assistance for fisheries, fishery participants, and communities affected by the ongoing CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, and $5 billion to directly support child care providers, Axios reported.
It doesn’t include a fresh round of stimulus checks of $1,200, rental assistance, or state and local funding.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) delivered to McConnell new ideas for reaching a compromise. Schumer refused to provide details during a press conference.
Schumer called it “a private proposal to help us move the ball forward,” as he accused McConnell of maneuvering to bring a partisan, Republican bill up for a vote instead of incorporating Democratic ideas.
Previously, Schumer and Pelosi sought a $2.2 trillion bill that McConnell rejected.
Earlier Tuesday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers unveiled a $900 billion CCP virus relief package that included extending expiring unemployment benefits.
Reuters contributed to this report.