Republicans unveiled a $500 billion stimulus package on Tuesday (Sept. 8) that includes another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgivable loans for small businesses, but does not contain a second $1,200 direct payment to taxpayers.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) released the pared-down measure in advance of a vote set for Thursday (Sept. 10). Lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill this week for the short session before the November election.
In addition to $258 billion in PPP funding, the plan from the GOP-controlled Senate would provide $105 billion to reopen schools, a $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit that would expire at year’s end, $31 billion for a coronavirus vaccine, $20 billion for farmers, $16 billion for virus testing, $15 billion to help daycare providers reopen and a $10 billion write-off in U.S. Postal Service debt.
In a statement earlier this week, McConnell said the package is “a targeted proposal that focuses on several of the most urgent aspects of this crisis, the issues where bipartisanship should be especially possible.”
But the proposal appears to be dead on arrival. Senate conservatives are wary of spending more taxpayer money, given that last week’s jobs report showed the nation added 1.4 million jobs in August as the unemployment rate fell to 8.4 percent, down from 10.2 percent in July.
Meanwhile, Democrats are poised to reject the proposal.
Six months ago, the Democrat-controlled House passed a $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus package that included jobless payments through January, relief for cash-strapped state and local governments, a second direct payment to Americans, hazard pay for front-line workers, more money for coronavirus testing and a temporary rollback of the cap on state and local tax deductions.
“Get real, Mitch McConnell,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) told Bloomberg News. “It’s only a ‘check the box’ so that some of his endangered Republican senators can go home and say, ‘Well, see, I tried.’ But it isn’t trying. It is not even an attempt to do the right thing.”
Senate Republicans who are facing tough reelection bids have asked the GOP leadership to provide further spending to assist taxpayers and businesses.