More than a month after the GOP unveiled the HEALS Act and weeks after negotiations on Capitol Hill collapsed, Senate Republicans are making an effort to bring relief to the American people. Next week, they will reportedly introduce new legislation on the Senate floor targeting what they believe to be the three most pressing measures: children, jobs, and liability protections for small businesses.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed the news when speaking with FOX Business' Lou Dobbs on Monday. After he and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows failed to reach a deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Meadows said, "Hopefully Mitch [McConnell] will enter new legislation next week." McConnell has not yet confirmed if new legislation will be introduced, though Meadows' remarks echoed those of Republican Sen. John Barrasso, who told PBS News Tuesday morning that "the goal" is for Senate Republicans to push a narrow measure next week, according to CBS News. He added that Republican senators had a conference call with Mnuchin and Meadows scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday.
At this time, details of the alleged package remain unclear, though reports surfaced in late August that members of the GOP were planning to introduce a $500 billion "skinny" proposal. According to a report from CNBC, this bill would only address areas of bipartisan support, including expanded unemployment insurance, a new authorization of small business loans, and money for schools and Covid-19 testing, treatment and vaccines. The bill would not, however, include a second round of stimulus payments, despite that both Democrats and Republicans had supported an additional round of direct payments to Americans. Provisions for such payment had been included in both the HEROES Act and the HEALS Act.
Currently, it seems unlikely that this bill will pass. Democrats have long supported a larger scale package with a much higher price tag. Their HEROES Act proposal had a $3 trillion price tag, and as of a call last week between Pelosi and Meadows, they only seemed willing to drop that number to $2.2 trillion. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, is reportedly willing to sign a bill with a $1.3 trillion price tag, which is $3 billion higher than the $1 trillion HEALS Act.
If the bill is not approved by Congress and negotiations remain at an impasse, some measures have been put in place for aid. In mid-August, Trump signed an executive order targeting unemployment insurance, evictions, student loans, and a payroll tax cut. Some, however, have argued that his is not enough and are calling for Congress to pass a more widespread relief bill.