Senate GOP leaders and senior administration officials exchanged proposals and plans privately before formally presenting a Republican proposal next week, with only three weeks before Congress adjourns for its summer recess . The measure, which is expected to cost about $ 1.3 trillion, would be the GOP’s last response to the crisis – after it unreservedly rejected the more than $ 3 trillion Democrats in the House plan that was adopted two years ago. month.
But to get to Trump’s office, the two parties in both chambers would have to resolve major differences – over the size and scope of the plan and the details it contains – in the heat of an election year, what which means that many are skeptical agreement can be reached with the number of days decreasing before the August break.
“We are obviously out of session this week, but when my members return next week, we will start socializing with them, starting to discuss them with the Democrats and starting the legislative process,” said the majority chief at Senate Mitch McConnell in Corbin. , Kentucky, Monday. “I think you can expect that to happen in the next three weeks, starting next week. ”
The GOP measure, which is actively discussed by McConnell, White House officials, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, and senior presidents of the Senate GOP, is expected to provide aid to businesses, hospitals, and schools in an effort to revive the economy with millions of unemployed. But even before it was introduced, it has already caused an outcry from Democrats, who argue that the measure is much smaller than what is necessary and should include measures that their party will not accept.
“There must be, must, no bill will pass the Senate without protecting the liability of all those related to the coronavirus,” McConnell told reporters in Kentucky. “No one should be faced with an epidemic of lawsuits in the wake of the pandemic we have already linked to the coronavirus. ”
Democratic leaders have already suggested that such a plan was a sticking point.
“Listen to what everyone has to say,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said last week. “But don’t say, ‘You all have to go back to work even if it’s not safe. And by the way, we take all responsibility away from the employer. ‘ I mean, it’s just – no. ”
Pelosi instead called for a regulation under the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to protect workers at risk of exposure to the virus, an idea that had previously been rejected by Republicans.
And since the White House has demanded that schools be reopened in the fall, Republicans plan to make new federal aid contingent on school districts’ measures to reopen it. GOP sources said on Monday that the language was still being sorted and that details were not final on how it would work. But they are considering a range of possibilities, including withholding money for schools that remain closed.
“As I said, I think the president would be ready to consider additional funds if all of these schools reopen,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News on Monday.
Democrats have rejected this idea.
“You just have to open schools at random and try your luck or will you get no state aid?” I mean it’s absolutely no, “said Washington Senator Patty Murray, the Senate’s best Democrat in health, education, work and the pension committee told CNN last week.
In addition, the two parties are far apart in terms of the level of stimulus needed for the economy.
Pelosi said last week that the next stimulus package should include at least $ 1 trillion for state and local governments and another $ 1 trillion for extending unemployment insurance provisions and another round of direct payments. individuals, as well as additional funding for testing. McConnell rejected a $ 3 trillion price far exceeding what his party is ready to get.
“We need to extend unemployment insurance,” said Pelosi this weekend. “It will expire at the end of July. And then there are direct payments to people so that we have $ 6,000 for a family of five. People desperately need it. ”
Republicans were wary of extending the $ 600 unemployment insurance, warning that the extra money could deter people from looking for work.
Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina reiterated his opposition to the extension Monday.
“I was not there for the last time. I’m not this time, “he said of the improved unemployment benefits.
Asked about it last month, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he did not think “it would be productive to extend the extra money from the federal government.”
The best Republicans have expressed some openness to more direct payments, albeit with tighter limits on who will receive them.
“Going back to school poses the greatest risk of spreading the coronavirus,” Pelosi said during CNN’s “State of the Union” campaign on Sunday regarding the administration’s efforts to reopen schools.
Tits story was updated on Monday with further developments.