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McConnell sets up votes on narrow coronavirus relief proposal

POLITICO logo POLITICO 10/17/2020 By Marianne LeVine
a man wearing a suit and tie: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell © J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Saturday that the Senate will hold two votes next week on a half-trillion-dollar coronavirus relief package, even as the chances of Congress approving a broader deal before the election remain slim.

The Senate will vote Tuesday on additional money for the Paycheck Protection Program and Wednesday on the rest of the package. Democrats have already dismissed the GOP approach as inadequate, and are not expected to support the proposals.

“Speaker Pelosi keeps saying she feels ‘nothing’ is better than ‘something’ and clinging to far-left demands that are designed to kill any hope of a deal,” McConnell said Saturday. “Working families have spent months waiting for Speaker Pelosi’s Marie Antoinette act to stop. They should not have to wait any longer.”

Next week's coronavirus relief proposal will be nearly identical to legislation Republicans attempted to pass in September, which included $300 in boosted federal weekly unemployment benefits through the end of December, as well money for testing and reopening schools.

The Paycheck Protection Program's lending authority expired Aug. 8 with about $134 billion unspent.


Video: Trump says if he and Pelosi agree on stimulus package, Senate GOP will get on board (FOX News)

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McConnell’s move comes as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continue to discuss a broader relief package. With control of the Senate a toss-up in the upcoming election, vulnerable Senate Republicans have repeatedly called for Congress to reach an agreement.

a person holding a pair of people wearing costumes: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., meets with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. Negotiations between Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for an additional coronavirus aid package were abruptly halted last week by President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) © J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., meets with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. Negotiations between Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for an additional coronavirus aid package were abruptly halted last week by President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

President Donald Trump has encouraged Senate Republicans to “go big” on another stimulus and suggested this week that he could persuade the GOP to get on board. But McConnell has made clear his caucus will not support anything close to the $1.8 trillion in relief the White House is proposing.

“He’s talking about a much larger amount than I can sell to my members,” McConnell said earlier this week.

Earlier this month, Senate Republicans lashed out at Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on a private call, warning there would be no appetite for a larger stimulus ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

The impasse over coronavirus relief comes as cases continue to rise nationwide, with more than 218,000 Americans dead from the disease and millions more unemployed.

Zachary Warmbrodt contributed to this report.

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