As Congress and the White House continue their stalemate over another pandemic stimulus package, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to hold a vote next week on a “targeted relief” measure that focuses on replenishing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses.
The move will come just days before the Nov. 3 election and amid a fierce political debate over confirming Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
While Democrats will almost certainly block the legislation from advancing to a final vote by filibustering it—as they did with a previous piecemeal bill by Republicans—it will offer vulnerable GOP senators last-minute political ammunition as voters prepare to cast their ballots.
“Unless Democrats block this aid for workers, we will have time to pass it before we proceed as planned to the pending Supreme Court nomination as soon as it is reported by the Judiciary Committee,” McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said in a statement. “Republicans do not agree that nothing is better than something for working families.”
McConnell did not specify the legislation’s overall worth, the specific PPP funding levels or if any other provisions like unemployment benefits or individual checks would be included. A similar trimmed-down proposal worth $500 billion was blocked by Senate Democrats in September.
The office of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) did not immediately respond for comment.
The new push for additional pandemic relief also comes amid erratic positions by President Donald Trump on the matter. Originally killing the prospect for another deal until after Election Day, the president has since pushed hesitant conservatives on Capitol Hill to “Go big or go home!!!” as he tweeted on Tuesday.
Democrats and Republicans have so far rejected a proposal offered last week by the White House for a $1.8 trillion package. Many Democrats, most notably leadership members, say it still falls short of their $2.2 trillion proposal. They continue to flatly reject any piecemeal proposals.
Meanwhile, Republicans largely oppose any measure the further it creeps above $1 trillion.
“The American people need Democrats to stop blocking bipartisan funding and let us replenish the PPP before more Americans lose their jobs needlessly,” McConnell said.
This is a developing story and will be updated as additional information becomes available.
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