President Donald Trump is ready to sign a stimulus relief bill before leaving office in January. However, the proposal he is ready to put his name on may not be everything Americans hope. As Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has been one of the leading figures in the now collapsed relief bill negotiations, spoke to reporters Wednesday, he revealed that Trump is prepared to sign Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's slim relief bill, which excludes several provisions, including the second round of stimulus checks.
Mnuchin told reporters, according to Reuters, that "the president will sign the McConnell proposal that he put forward yesterday," adding that "we look forward to making progress on that." The bill, a more targeted COVID-19 relief plan rather than a more wide scope one, is said to be similar to two $500 billion bills he has already attempted to pass in the Senate in recent months, both of which were blocked by Democrats. Currently being negotiated behind closed doors, sources told the New York Post that it includes an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, unemployment insurance for gig workers (the details of this provision are unclear), a $332 billion grant program for shuttered live venues and theaters, $16 billion for increased testing, $20 billion in additional farm assistance, and $31 billion for vaccine development. It is also said to include liability protection for schools and businesses, something many Democrats have strongly objected to.
However, several notable provisions are missing from the slim proposal, including the second round of stimulus payments, something that Americans have been calling on Congress to approve for months now and something Trump himself had even said he supported. It also does not include the $600-per-week federal boost to unemployment insurance. It does not seek to provide aid for state and local governments.
The bill is already facing opposition, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer saying in a speech on the Senate floor that McConnell "should not waste the Senate's time on another inadequate, partisan proposal." Schumer said that McConnell should instead "sit down with Democrats to begin a true bipartisan effort to quickly meet the needs of the country." He also blasted the bill for including liability protection for businesses.
McConnell's proposal comes as he rejected a bipartisan-backed bill, which was unveiled Tuesday. That bill totals $908 billion, and while it does not include the second round of stimulus payments, it does $160 billion in state and local government aid. Since its introduction, it has gained support, including from Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and President-elect Joe Biden, who urged Congress to act on it.