Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced he will release a separate stimulus proposal worth $500 billion, significantly lower than the deal Democrats and the White House are negotiating.
“We're going to go back on the floor next week, again, with a proposal more narrowly targeted,” McConnell said at an event in Kentucky on Tuesday. “I want to give my friends on the other side one more chance to do highly-targeted relief that the country desperately needs.”
The new proposal includes funding for the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), extra unemployment benefits, money for schools, and liability protections for businesses. McConnell is expected to put the proposal for a vote after the Senate returns on October 19.
The White House’s latest proposal is around $1.8 trillion, up from $1.6 trillion, and closer to the price tag of the Democrats’ latest $2.2 trillion stimulus proposal that passed the House in September.
McConnell’s new proposal has similar provisions to the one the GOP released in early September, which was worth $650 billion, but only $300 billion of that was new spending with the rest being repurposed money. The previous package was rejected in the Senate.
“Leader McConnell is trying to change the narrative to Democrats blocking relief in an attempt to protect his endangered incumbents,” Mark Harkins, a former congressional staffer and senior fellow at Georgetown’s Government Affairs Institute, told Yahoo Money. “The bottom line: This is still posturing and not meant to advance the negotiations. Whether the electorate sees it that or not is an open question.”
‘We cannot get an agreement just by folding’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who has been actively negotiating a new stimulus package with the White House, said that the latest offer by the administration falls short, but she still is hopeful for a deal.
Sticking points for any deal between the White House and Democrats include aid for state and local governments, funding for schools, workers’ protections and child care support, rental assistance, funding for increased testing and tracing as well as funding for small businesses, elections, and the census.
“We really need to have an agreement, but we cannot have an agreement by just folding,” Pelosi said on a conference call with House Democrats on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported. “I don’t think our leverage has ever been greater than it is now.”
Any deal reached by Democrats and the White House would likely face stiff opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate, where it would need 60 votes to pass.
“Republicans do not agree that nothing is better than something for working families,” McConnell said in a statement on Tuesday. “The American people need Democrats to stop blocking bipartisan funding and let us replenish the PPP before more Americans lose their jobs needlessly.”