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Senate to vote on coronavirus relief package this week

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On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate will vote on another coronavirus relief package this week. McConnell said the package will be a targeted proposal aimed at solving urgent matters while Democrats and the White House remain stalled on a larger package.

“Today, the Senate Republican majority is introducing a new targeted proposal, focused on some of the very most urgent healthcare, education, and economic issues. It does not contain every idea our party likes. I am confident Democrats will feel the same,” McConnell said. “Yet Republicans believe the many serious differences between our two parties should not stand in the way of agreeing where we can agree and making law that helps our nation.”

The estimated $500 billion bill has a slim chance of passing with Senate leadership, still trying to gain support from all 53 Republican senators and win over some Democrats. Sixty votes are required to pass the bill and Democrats appear to be united in opposition.

Congress has not been able to come to an agreement on a new funding bill since May. House Democrats passed a $3 trillion relief package that month but the Republican Senate refused to take the measure up. In May, McConnell said he believed the House bill was far too costly and included too much pork such as election assistance for states.

McConnell isn’t hopeful that Congress will reach a deal on a relief package before the election.

“I don’t know if there will be another package in the next few weeks or not,” McConnell said. “The cooperative spirit we had in March and April has dissipated as we’ve moved closer and closer to the election.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have pledged to pass a continuing resolution to extend funding and keep the government from shutting down. The CR would not include any of the controversial provisions under discussion for additional COVID-19 relief.

“The good news is, the speaker and I have agreed that neither one of us want a government shutdown. I have spoken to the president and to Mitch and Kevin about this as well, so we’re going to move forward with a clean CR,” Mnuchin said on Sunday.

Pelosi and most House Democrats continue to hold out for the Senate to take up their $3 trillion package from May, and it’s still not certain that the House will vote to support a continuing resolution when they return to D.C.

“Leader McConnell may have declared a “pause” to America’s coronavirus response, but it is clear the virus never did the same. It has been 114 days since the #HeroesAct passed the House. Enough waiting. America’s families need action now. #AMJoy,” Pelosi tweeted.

McConnell responded with a tweet of his own hinting that Democrats don’t want to come together before the election because they want to keep Americans hurting in hopes of winning in November.

“Senate Republicans have been trying for months to deliver more COVID-19 relief to American families. Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer have blocked us at every turn. Every action has suggested they simply do not want families to get any more bipartisan help before the election,” McConnell said.

The House returns to Washington on September 14.

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