McConnell Says Senate Will Vote On ‘Targeted’ Stimulus Bill As Trump Pushes For A Bigger Deal—Again
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday that the Senate is preparing for an October 19 vote on a “targeted relief” bill that will include more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, just as President Trump again waded into the discussion to push for a larger package in the latest sign of a major disconnect between GOP senators and the White House.
McConnell said Tuesday that the new bill would be worth roughly $500 billion, according to the Washington Post’s Erica Werner, but it’s not clear how much of that total will be new spending and how much repurposed funds.
According to Werner, McConnell said the narrow bill will also have federal supplemental unemployment benefits (though it’s not yet clear in what amount) and money for schools and hospitals—there was no mention of another round of direct payments.
The Republican-led Senate has attempted to pass a pared-down bill once before, but Democrats used the filibuster to block it because they thought it was too small.
That earlier bill included just $300 billion in new spending (along with $350 billion in money repurposed from the CARES Act passed in March) and left out several key policy provisions that at one point had bipartisan support, including a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks.
The most recent offering from Democrats, on the other hand, is a $2.2 trillion downsized version of the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act the House first passed in May.
It’s not likely that Democrats would allow another plan that they believe is too small to pass the Senate or the House if the GOP brings it up for a vote, and Pelosi has also said that she will not accept any standalone bills (on airline aid, the PPP, or anything else) without the White House’s guarantee that a larger bill will follow.
“Republicans do not agree that nothing is better than something for working families,” McConnell said in a statement. Pelosi has taken the opposite view, telling Bloomberg TV last month that passing legislation in the spirit of “something is better than nothing” would be a “missed opportunity.”
On a Democratic caucus call on Tuesday, Pelosi reported told her members that she does not plan to support the new $500 billion GOP offer, Politico’s Jake Sherman reported. Pelosi has already described the White House’s $1.8 trillion plan as “grossly inadequate.”
The Trump administration has for weeks struggled to come to an agreement with Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), on the size, scope and legislative language of the next bill. Even if those two sides can come to an understanding, another round of federal stimulus legislation is not guaranteed because McConnell’s Republican caucus strongly opposes a package as expensive as the $1.8 trillion plan the White House has most recently offered. Democrats have most recently put forward a $2.2 trillion plan, which passed in the House on October 1. Over the last week, President Trump has thrown the negotiations into disarray—he’s called them off, restarted them, and on Friday even claimed that he’d like to see a larger package than either the Democrats or Republicans had proposed. That comment was quickly clarified by a White House spokeswoman, who said the Trump administration would like to keep the final price tag of the next bill under $2 trillion.
Over the weekend, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows called on Congress to vote “immediately” on a stopgap bill that would allow roughly $135 billion in unspent PPP funds to be used until lawmakers can come to a more comprehensive agreement.
Trump Pushes For Speedy Supreme Court Confirmation So Lawmakers Can Approve Stimulus, But A Deal Is Still A Long Way Off (Forbes)
White House Says Republicans Will ‘Come Along With’ What Trump Wants On Stimulus (Forbes)
White House Calls For ‘Immediate’ Vote On Stimulus Stopgap Bill Using Unspent PPP Funds (Forbes)
Trump On Stimulus: ‘We’re Ready To Go’ (Forbes)