Senate Republicans are expected to introduce a limited stimulus proposal as lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., from recess and after the two parties failed to reach an agreement on the price tag and key provisions of the next deal earlier in the summer.
“Today, the Senate Republican majority is introducing a new targeted proposal, focused on some of the very most urgent healthcare, education, and economic issues,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a statement on Tuesday. “I will be moving immediately today to set up a floor vote as soon as this week.”
The proposal reportedly includes provisions on additional unemployment benefits, an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and more money for day care and schools. This potentially leaves out stimulus checks, a provision on which the two parties have similar proposals.
The bill is unlikely to get the 60 votes needed to get through the Senate. Republicans hold 53 of the Senate seats, so they will need Democratic support to advance the legislation.
The proposal is expected to be worth around $500 billion, or half of the price tag for the HEALS Act that Republicans introduced in late July. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), who called the $1 trillion HEALS Act “skinny” and “inadequate” along with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), also criticized the potential scaled-down proposal last week.
“Republicans may call their proposal ‘skinny,’ but it would be more appropriate to call it ‘emaciated,’” Schumer said in a letter to the Democratic caucus. “Their proposal appears to be completely inadequate and, by every measure, fails to meet the needs of the American people.”
‘Willing to go to $2.2 trillion’
The disagreements between the two parties revolve around the overall funding for the bill — the Democrats’ HEROES Act is worth over $3 trillion, while the GOP’s proposal is worth $1 trillion — as well as some stimulus provisions, such as liability protection for businesses and schools, the size of the additional unemployment benefits, and funding for local and state governments.
“It does not contain every idea our party likes. I am confident Democrats will feel the same,” McConnell said about the latest proposal. “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.”
While Congressional negotiations were stalled, the president signed executive actions in early August concerning student loan payments, extra unemployment benefits, eviction moratorium, and a payroll tax deferral — which many experts said are insufficient to help jobless Americans.
Despite those actions, the White House has expressed interest in continuing to negotiate more stimulus with Congress, with Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressing continued support for more stimulus.
But the two parties are still far apart on the price tag of the deal. The proposal Republicans plan to introduce — worth around $500 billion — creates an even bigger gap between it and the Democratic proposal, which was cut down to $2.2 trillion.
“Originally, House and Senate Democrats made clear we would be willing to cut a trillion dollars if the White House would add a trillion for a bill,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in a statement in August. “In order to meet in the middle, we have now said we would be willing to go to $2.2 trillion to meet the needs of the American people.”