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Senate to vote on a GOP proposal for coronavirus relief on Thursday

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced that the Senate will vote on a GOP proposal for coronavirus relief on Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks after meeting with Senate Republicans, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Jacquelyn MartinAP

The Republican-led US Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has announced that a vote on Republicans' $500bn dollar coronavirus relief-bill proposal is to be held in the Senate on Thursday. This will be the first formal vote of the Senate on coronavirus relief since March.

"The Senate Republican majority is introducing a new targeted proposal, focused on “some of the very most urgent healthcare, education, and economic issues,” McConnell said in a statement on Tuesday. “I will be moving immediately today to set up a floor vote as soon as this week,” he added.

The new proposal is meant as a more "targeted" approach to COVID-19 relief, and is expected to cost less than McConnell's previous $1 trillion proposal, the HEALS act.

According to Reuters, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said he hoped for another round of federal COVID-19 stimulus funding before the November 3 presidential election, but signaled no breakthrough in talks with congressional Democrats.

The proposal reportedly includes provisions on additional unemployment benefits, an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and is expected to be worth around $500 billion, half of the price tag for the HEALS Act that Republicans introduced in late July. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, who called the $1 trillion HEALS Act “skinny” has criticized the potential scaled-down proposal.

Republican 'skinny' bill

Republicans may call their proposal ‘skinny,’ but it would be more appropriate to call it ‘emaciated,” Schumer said in a letter to the Democratic caucus. “Their proposal appears to be completely inadequate and, by every measure, fails to meet the needs of the American people.”

Republicans and Democrats have been at a stalemate over coronavirus-related funding for months. President Trump accused Democrats of being unwilling to give him a win before the presidential election, whereas Democrats have accused the White House of not understanding the gravity of the crisis eas they demand a giant spending package.

The disagreements between the two parties revolve around the overall funding for the bill — the Democrats’ HEROES Act is worth over $3.4 trillion, while the Republicans pushed for a $1 trillion plan. The lack of necessary Democratic support would deprive McConnell of the 60 votes he needs to pass the bill which also has the support of the Administration.

It is currently unclear whether the bulk of the GOP conference supports the new proposal, but one GOP leadership aide indicated the number is close to 51 with the hope of hitting that number by vote time.

$2 trillion proposal

In negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Schumer and members of the Trump administration, the Democrats said they offered to lower their proposal to $2 trillion. Republicans said that price was still too high.