Senate GOP prepares to introduce slimmer COVID-19 relief bill after Mnuchin’s testimony

Capitol Hill – With the collapse of bipartisan coronovirus relief talks, Senate Republicans want to introduce a scale-down package early next week.

“We have a focused, targeted solution that we hope the House will pass,” Sen. John Barraso, R-Vio., A member of the leadership, told reporters Tuesday, “The goal is to come back and vote. . ” To go to that. ”

The so-called “skinny” bill is an effort to support nearly the entire GOP convention, something that was not achieved in early August with the introduction of the Republicans’ $ 1 trillion Hails Act on jobs, schools and liability protection Was focused. Nearly half of the GOP convention indicated opposition to that package, leaving its leader, Mitch McConnell, in a bind that required substantial Democratic support for any future package.

A Senate GOP aide told ABC News, “We are close to a bill that almost all GOP senators can support”, with some Republican leaders hoping that Democrats will return to the negotiating table or face political backlash.

The news came in front of Treasury Secretary Steven Menuchin’s testimony in front of the House Coronovirus Select Subcommittee on Tuesday.

According to the draft law obtained by ABC News, Republicans intend to offer:

  • A $ 300 weekly federal boost for unemployment benefits by the end of the year, down from the $ 600 per week check distributed under the previous incentive law that ended in July; Requirements for waiving small business loans;
  • An additional $ 258 billion paycheck protection program loan for small business already designed to allow borrowers to do so again;
  • $ 29 billion vaccines for health and human services, to assist in the development and delivery of medicine and diagnostics, and “how the vaccine delivery plan will focus efforts on high-risk, undersubscribed and minority populations;”
  • $ 16 billion for testing and contact tracing; $ 105 billion for schools – going largely to schools that have individual classrooms.
  • And with growing concern about delays with the Postal Service before the 2020 elections, Senate Republicans want to allocate $ 10 billion in grant money to help the cash-financed agency. The postmaster general, Luis Dejoy, a GOP mega-donor, has come under fire from Democrats in the Senate and House, the latter of whom issued a sub-issue to acquire documents related to a host of issues, including mail delays Is intended.

    Still, the slimmed-down GOP bill is one that is insufficiently rejected by Democrats, with Pelosi calling the HEALS Act “anorexic”, and even a few Republicans who have dealt with any epidemic Other expenses are denied. – High deficit anxiety.

    But a Senate GOP aide told ABC News that 51 Republican votes in the legislation, two shy of the convention, expected solidarity.

    With the Senate Republican Daily Conference on the House Conference on the Mnuchin and the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, one of which is testified by the Secretary this morning before the House Select on Coronavirus Virus.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer stressed that the administration agreed to at least $ 2.2 trillion for schools, state and local governments, small businesses, food security, unemployment and eviction aid and front-line worker assistance. is. House Democrats passed a comprehensive $ 3.4 trillion pandemic relief bill in May, but the Senate Republican leader refused to take it, saying it was too large and included Democratic “wish list” items not related to the pandemic Were.

    In a recent letter to his Democratic caucus, the chairman said that the president and Republicans “still do not understand the needs of the American people because life and livelihoods are overwhelmed by the virus and its economic consequences.”

    The breakdown of bipartisan dialogue has led to a more bitter split in recent weeks.

    Less than a week ago after a phone call with Meadows, Pelosi sacked a top White House official, the former conservative North Carolina congressman for “what his name is” and “not even the chief negotiator” “” Whoever was “staffing” Mnuchin.

    “He has refused to meet,” Mucchin said on Monday, accusing Democrats of acting in “bad faith”, adding that he expected McConnell to “enter into a new law” next week that would “raise children.” Will focus on jobs, (and) liability protection for small businesses. ”

    During a hearing on Tuesday with the House Select Subcommittee on Coronovirus, Mnuchin was tasked by Democrats, who urged him to return to the negotiating table.

    “Stop bragging about what we’ve already done. We have people who are oppressing,” Rep. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California. “If the kids don’t have a place to stay and don’t have a bed to sleep in, then there is no difference in school either … Please, please go back to the negotiating table. Forget about this name, blunder faults. … Let’s encourage this economy. This is our business. “

    The president signed a series of executive orders in the wake of this stalemate, including a lapse of executive-boosting unemployment aid and payroll tax cuts, which sought to allay some of the economic pain experienced by millions of Americans, but The effect of executive functions is unclear.

    Mnuchin told MPs on Tuesday that they still believe more needs to be done to address the epidemic.

    “While we continue to see signs of a strong economic recovery, we are sensitive to the fact that more needs to be done,” Mnuchin said. “We will continue to work with the Senate and the House on a bipartisan basis … I believe a bipartisan agreement should still be reached.”

    But Mnuchin’s position put him at odds with some Senate Republicans.

    Some Republicans expressed surprise that GOP leaders were attempting what would have been a fruitless effort, although noting that it was likely designed to “box” the “Democrats” politically.

    A Senate Republican aide told ABC News, “I am shocked, to be honest.”

    But Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, a Republican, recently told reporters that the GOP effort to pass the bill without the 60 votes needed for approval would be worth it.

    “I can tell you that this is my reason for doing so. We have spent a huge amount of money which I think is in line with the four bills passed by Congress and the action taken by the President of the Federal Reserve … We This economy has been put together. And it has been organized with duct tape and happy ideas, but it is still held together, “Kennedy said, adding that small business support and more testing are key.

    “I think there is extra money for testing, new types of tests are developing every day, and I think it would be a smart investment to invest in new testing. I don’t think we as an economy In or can return to normal. Country until our schools open. They need help. They have spent a lot of extra on both K-12 and higher education, and so I think this practice is worth pursuing. is. ”

    The Senate returns on recess from next Tuesday, and there is little time to address the growing coronovirus crisis, as well as to prevent a government shutdown by Sept30. Members are expected to be out for the entire month of October to focus on the campaign.

    A former senior Republican budget aide told ABC News recently that there is an expectation – and indeed, action is already underway – that the two efforts will be merged into one, just one month before the election. -Stack Showdown set up.


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