Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly rejected a new stimulus check bill on Tuesday, with support from both Republicans and Democrats. The proposal called for a total of $908 billion in aid to break the stimulus stalemate, as the coronavirus pandemic worsens all over the country. According to a report by CNBC, McConnell has not had formal negotiations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi since the beginning of November.
The proposal McConnell shot down was organized through a cooperative effort of the Republican-controlled United States Senate and the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, yet McConnell was quick to dismiss it when the U.S. Congress reconvened on Tuesday. Back in the summer, McConnell wanted a stimulus bill of about $1 trillion, but more recently he has supported even lower numbers like $500 billion, as Democrats continue to call for at least $2.2 trillion in spending. With the threat of a government shutdown looming, McConnell said "we just don't have time to waste."
Instead, McConnell said that the U.S. government's new spending bill and the coronavirus relief will "all likely come in one package," which needs to be passed by Dec. 11. Americans have now been waiting since May for a second stimulus check, and many are furious at the ongoing delay.
Tuesday's proposal would have included about $288 billion in small business aid — with a revised version of the Paycheck Protection Program that would function better — and $160 billion in relief for state and local governments. The bill also included $180 billion for emergency unemployment enhancement, which would have granted an extra $300 per week to qualifying taxpayers.
The bill would not have included a direct stimulus check for most Americans but would have provided vital funding for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and the eventual distribution of a vaccine. It also offered aid to education and transportation.
Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat, was among the lawmakers that helped develop this new proposal, which he described as an "interim package" to hold Americans over until President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Warner told CNBC: "if there's one thing I'm hearing uniformly it's: 'Congress, do not leave town for the holidays leaving the country and the economy adrift with all these initial CARES [Act] programs running out.'"
Whether this can be done remains to be seen, as the deadlock between the two parties and the two legislative bodies continues. Congress must pass a budget by Dec. 11 to avoid a government shut-down, and McConnell wants that contentious budget to contain any coronavirus relief needed before the new Congress takes over in January.