Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will vote on smaller coronavirus relief packages Tuesday and Wednesday. The first bill will center on additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides assistance to small businesses during the pandemic. The second vote on Wednesday will center on aid to schools and funding for testing. The overall proposal will cost $500 billion, much smaller than the White House's most recent $1.8 trillion offer, and the $2.2 trillion package House Democrats recently passed.
"It is heartless for Democrats to continue their total blockage of any aid whatsoever" unless House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "gets her way on countless non-COVID-related demands," McConnell said in his statement Saturday evening. He later added that if Democrats do not block the legislation, the Senate could pass the bills before they turn to vote on Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court. "It is long past time for the two parties to agree where we can and get more money out the door," the Kentucky Republican wrote.
I just announced the Senate will vote next week on hundreds of billions more dollars for relief programs that Democrats do not even oppose. Working families have already waited too long for Speaker Pelosi’s Marie Antoinette act to stop. Let's make law. pic.twitter.com/iR7OYKuCKw— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) October 17, 2020
According to McConnell, the new bill would include federal unemployment benefits, more funding for PPP, more funding for Operation Warp Speed for a coronavirus vaccine, more funding to distribute the vaccine, as well as more funding for testing and tracing. The new bill will include $100 billion to "make schools safe for kids," McConnell wrote.
"Working families have spent months waiting for Speaker Pelosi's Marie Antoinette act to stop," McConnell wrote. "They should not have to wait longer. Next week, Senate Republicans will move to break this logjam. The Senate will vote on hundreds of billions of dollars for targeted relief programs that Democrats do not even claim to oppose."
Pelosi has been pushing for a more comprehensive stimulus package, and the House has already passed two different packages that McConnell has refused to hold a vote on because of their cost. The May HEROES Act cost over $3 trillion, while a new version passed earlier this month came with a $2.2 trillion price tag. Pelosi continued talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who offered a $1.8 trillion package. Even that cost was too much for McConnell, who said Senate Republicans are more in favor of a "highly targeted" $500 billion package. President Donald Trump himself has pushed for a bigger stimulus package, but McConnell told reporters in Kentucky Thursday he did not think there could a compromise near $2 trillion, reports CBS News.