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Newest COVID Relief Package Looks Doomed

Mitch McConnell will float smaller measure, but chances of passage are close to nil
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 8, 2020 12:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, under pressure from GOP senators in tough reelection races, said Tuesday the Senate would vote on a trimmed-down Republican coronavirus relief package, per the AP. The problem: It has a slim chance of passage in the face of Democrats' insistence for more sweeping aid. The GOP leader acknowledged the package he will be putting forward “does not contain every idea our party likes.” And he said it was far less than what Democrats are seeking. “Yet Republicans believe the many serious differences between our two parties should not stand in the way of agreeing where we can agree,” he said. The move comes as lawmakers straggle back to Washington for an abbreviated preelection session, as hopes are dimming for another coronavirus relief bill—or much else.

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McConnell's move Tuesday would clear the way for a Thursday test vote in which the $500 billion scaled-back bill—roughly half the size of a measure McConnell unveiled earlier this summer—is sure to be blocked by Democrats. McConnell's bill would provide $105 billion to help schools reopen, enact a shield against lawsuits for businesses and others that are powering ahead to reopen, and create a scaled-back $300-per-week supplemental jobless benefit. There's $29 billion for a coronavirus vaccine, $16 billion for virus testing, and $15 billion to help child care providers reopen. But it won't contain another round of $1,200 direct payments to Americans. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to demand $2.2 trillion, and while Trump's negotiators have signaled a willingness to inch further in her direction, a significant gap remains.

(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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