Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), in a letter to other Democrats, suggested that a new GOP proposal on COVID-19 relief won’t get the support of Democrats in Congress, saying it doesn’t provide enough funding.
“Republicans may call their proposal ‘skinny,’ but it would be more appropriate to call it ’emaciated,'” Schumer wrote Thursday to his members. “Their proposal appears to be completely inadequate and, by every measure, fails to meet the needs of the American people.”
Senate Republicans have said they hope to pass a pared-down, “skinny” relief package that would include some extra unemployment benefits, a Payment Protection Program (PPP) extension, and funding for the U.S. Postal Service.
But Schumer suggested that the latest proposal doesn’t have a chance of passing in the Democratic-controlled House, saying that GOP leaders are trying to give the impression that they are taking action. It comes weeks after talks between Democrats and the White House stalled, with unemployment insurance and funding for state and local governments being the biggest sticking points.
Schumer again said that Democrats are the ones who are negotiating “in good faith,” while accusing the Republicans of stonewalling the talks.
“We should strive for, and hope we can achieve, another comprehensive, bipartisan bill that meets the moment facing our nation,” he wrote.
The negotiations on the stimulus measure are set to restart in the coming days, although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she spoke over the phone with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for about 30 minutes. The talk yielded no new results.
Mnuchin, who appeared in front of the House earlier this week, advocated for a faster, targeted agreement that is based on what the economy needs now. He also said that the measures that the two sides agree upon should be taken up by Congress and passed, including stimulus payments, unemployment benefits, PPP loans, and more.
“We will continue to work with the Senate and House on a bipartisan basis for a phase four relief package,” Mnuchin said. “I believe a bipartisan agreement still should be reached.”
Meanwhile, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said the largest obstacle to a new deal is the state and local funding. Democrats have sought more than $900 billion in funding in the next package, while Republicans have proposed none.
Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said Tuesday that the GOP is aiming to vote on the “skinny” package next week.
Pelosi recently said that a deal that is worth less than $2.2 trillion will not pass the Democrat-controlled House. That figure is down from the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act that was passed in the House in May.