Senate Republicans on Tuesday revealed a slimmed-down CCP virus relief bill as they prepare to vote on the measure as soon as this week.
The bill was released by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and it will provide a $300 per week federal unemployment benefit until the end of 2020, which is down from the $600-per-week that was provided under the CARES Act. That provision, however, expired on July 31.
McConnell, as he was walking to his office, told reporters that a vote on the bill is scheduled Thursday, Sept. 10. “Republicans are making yet another overture. Today we’re releasing a targeted proposal that focuses on several of the most urgent aspects of this crisis, issues where bipartisanship should be especially possible,” he said on the floor.
The bill also includes about $105 billion for schools, $16 billion for testing, and would make a loan from the Treasury Department to the U.S. Postal Service forgivable. Political news website The Hill obtained McConnell’s proposal.
Also included in the bill are liability protections for businesses and medical facilities that stay open during the pandemic.
“These lawsuits pose a substantial risk to interstate commerce because they threaten to keep small and large businesses, schools, colleges and universities, religious, philanthropic and other nonprofit institutions, and local government agencies from re-opening for fear of expensive litigation that might prove to be meritless,” the bill reads. “These lawsuits further threaten to undermine the Nation’s fight against the virus by exposing our health care workers and health care facilities to liability for difficult medical decisions they have made under trying and uncertain circumstances.”
Notably, the bill does not include more stimulus checks. The CARES Act provided $1,200 checks to individuals who make up to a certain amount and $500 for children.
The total cost of the bill was not provided by McConnell’s office, although it was reported to be $500 billion or less. Democrats had passed a $3.5 trillion bill called the HEROES Act in the House earlier this year.
The bill also does not provide funding for state and local jurisdictions. Democrats had sought nearly $1 trillion in their HEROES Act.
“The Senate Republican majority is introducing a new targeted proposal, focused on some of the very most urgent healthcare, education, and economic issues. It does not contain every idea our party likes. I am confident Democrats will feel the same,” McConnell said on Tuesday. “Yet Republicans believe the many serious differences between our two parties should not stand in the way of agreeing where we can agree and making law that helps our nation,” he added.
Democrats have already said the bill won’t pass the House. Talks between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and the White House stalled in August, with no real concessions being made on either side.
“Senate Republicans appear dead-set on another bill which doesn’t come close to addressing the problems and is headed nowhere. If anyone doubts McConnell’s true intent is anything but political, just look at the bill. This proposal is laden with poison pills Republicans know Democrats would never support,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement earlier on Tuesday.