The United States Senate returned to a formal session on Tuesday, and majority leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate will vote on a new coronavirus relief bill by the end of the week. McConnell's announcement called out Democratic leaders — particularly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — blaming them for the lack of a stimulus check and other aid so far. He apparently intends to initiate a vote no matter what, leaving Democrats to decide how far they are willing to compromise.
McConnell's announcement said that "Senate Republicans have been trying for months to deliver more COVID-19 relief to American families," pointing out the HEALS Act in July as evidence. In contrast, he wrote that "Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer have blocked" their efforts at every turn. McConnell insisted that he and his party are the ones willing to compromise, writing: "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."
Senate Republicans have been trying for months to deliver more COVID-19 relief to American families. Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer have blocked us at every turn. Every action has suggested they simply do not want families to get any more bipartisan help before the election. pic.twitter.com/nEPUDXBzIt— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) September 8, 2020
This was all to introduce "a new targeted proposal" for a coronavirus relief bill. It will reportedly address "the very most urgent healthcare, education and economic issues. It does not contain every idea our party likes. I am confident Democrats will feel the same," McConnell added.
McConnell gave no further details on this new proposal, but informed his constituents that he is hoping to set up a floor vote as early as this week. Critics argued that this was an unfair publicity tactic, so that McConnell could put his version of the bill to a vote without negotiating, and then portray Democrats as the villains if the vote does not pass.
McConnell's announcement also noted the various public letters to Pelosi published by groups of Democrats last month, calling on her to compromise more and get a deal passed. However, McConnell misrepresented these letters in some ways, since they did contain a few items that Democrats saw as non-negotiable for another stimulus package.
Critics also called McConnell a hypocrite for blaming this stimulus delay on Democrats in his press release, when he himself ignored the HEROES Act from May until the end of July. They also noted that the Senate had two prolonged recesses this summer, and canceling or postponing either of them could have helped the negotiations go further, but McConnell declined.
Still, for many Americans, the months of unemployment, food and housing insecurity and public health crisis have made them desperate for any aid, even if it does not line up with their needs exactly. So far, McConnell's new proposal has not been revealed and his vote has not been scheduled.