The White House and Senate Republicans on July 22 tentatively agreed on key components of the forthcoming stimulus package to provide relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, including funding for schools and testing.
The package is expected to be unveiled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in parts on Thursday, according to lawmakers at the Capitol.
Although deep disagreements over the scope of the $1 trillion in federal aid remain ahead of the expected roll out this week, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said a “fundamental agreement” on the funding level was reached.
“I think our agreement reflects our priorities, which is back to school, back to child care, back to work,” Senate Health Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) told reporters as he exited a session late Wednesday at the Capitol.
Lawmakers said the proposed $105 billion funding for schools would be split with $70 billion to help K-12 schools reopen, $30 billion for colleges and universities, and $5 billion for governors to allocate.
Republicans also propose giving $15 billion for child care centers to create safe environments for youngsters during the pandemic.
The tentative agreement calls for a further $16 billion in funding for testing and $9 billion in unspent from the from the previous $2.2 trillion stimulus package approved by Congress in March. The White House and Senate Republicans settled on adding the funds to reach $25 billion, senators said.
“We’ll have $16 billion in a line tomorrow, and $9 billion that previously was not as clearly designated that they already had will now be clearly designated as testing, so the total testing money will be $25 billion,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told reporters.
Still unresolved is how to phase out the $600 weekly unemployment benefit boost that is expiring, starting Friday, with millions still out of work. Republicans appear to be settling on $200 a week that would ultimately be adjusted according to state jobless benefits rates. Democrats want to keep the provision until early next year.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Tuesday that he doesn’t expect the relief package to be passed until next month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.