Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republicans are set to unveil their own COVID-19 relief package proposal and plan to hold a vote on it this week.
McConnell announced Tuesday morning that he and the senate Republican majority are behind a $1 trillion relief package after “trying for months” to hash out a plan with congressional Democrats. McConnell’s announcement included several direct criticisms of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who he accused of wanting to block any legislation which would help Americans before Election Day on November 3. The Senate GOP leader challenged Democrats to “walk the walk” by pushing for a vote on their package proposal this week.
“Today, the Senate Republican majority is introducing a new targeted proposal, focused on some of the very most urgent healthcare, education, and economic issues..I will be moving immediately today to set up a floor vote as soon as this week,” McConnell said, announcing the latest “skinny” proposal for a COVID-19 relief package.
The GOP proposal details have not yet been released, but last week Republicans said they would consider $300 weekly enhanced unemployment benefit payments to jobless Americans. They also are pushing for an additional $258 billion to renew the small business Paycheck Protection Program and $29 billion for U.S. vaccine research.
Senate Republicans, who have not supported any comprehensive pandemic package since the March CARES Act, also said last week they would get behind $16 billion for testing and contact tracing as well as $105 billion to help schools return to in-classroom teaching. During his announcement, McConnell railed against Democrats for holding up relief package proposals but Pelosi and Schumer have repeatedly accused Republicans of stalling due to their opposition of the $600-per-week of unemployment benefits.
“Republicans and Democrats have big differences, but they should not stop us from agreeing where we can and making law to help Americans through this crisis. Working families cannot suffer more because Democrats think their pain helps them politically. The Senate is going to vote,” McConnell tweeted Tuesday morning.
“But Republicans are not done fighting for the American people. Today our majority is introducing a targeted proposal for kids, jobs, and healthcare to help with many of our most urgent challenges. No more obstruction behind closed doors. Every Senator will be going on the record,” the GOP senate leader added.
Schumer, the leading Democrat in the Senate, responded to a similar Senate proposal in July by labeling it inadequate. Tweeting on Labor Day, Schumer said Democrats are continuing to fight “for workers, and families and people across this country,” before adding that the Senate must the pass the HEROES Act immediately. The HEROES Act was first proposed by House Democrats back in May and has been rejected by Republicans for including the $600 in weekly unemployment benefits which McConnell and other GOP leaders have said “pays people not to return to work.”
“I will make sure every Senate Democrat who has said they’d like to reach an agreement gets the opportunity to walk the walk,” McConnell said Tuesday, noting Democrats’ insistence that Congress must pass a relief package as soon as possible.
Newsweek reached out to McConnell and Schumer’s Washington offices Tuesday morning but did not receive a response in time for publication.