Stimulus Update: Senate GOP Drafts New Reduced Coronavirus Relief Measure

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While the proposal is not being considered anytime soon – the US Senate remains adjourned for the summer recess – it serves as a new marker for a conference that has been eventful and divided throughout coronavirus relief talks. It also marks the latest effort to start loose talks about economic aid that have only grown from a resolution over the weeks.

The draft measure also includes $ 10 billion in funding for the U.S. Postal Service, which has become a political hotspot in recent weeks due to operational changes that have led to allegations of deliberately slow service.

The proposal is a “skinny” version of the Senate GOP’s $ 1 trillion measure introduced last month and would include key elements like liability protection, $ 105 billion for schools, and a second round of program loans. paycheck protection. This would also include an extension of the enhanced federal unemployment benefit, but at a reduced level of $ 300 per week. The benefit, which expired at the end of July, was set in the $ 2.2 trillion CARES Act at a fixed rate of $ 600 per week.

For the Trump administration and lawmakers, the failure so far to reach agreement on a second major stimulus package has left important questions about the future for a U.S. economy still facing significant problems due to the pandemic. The first major package, signed in March after almost unanimous support on Capitol Hill, served as the main driver of consumer spending due to direct payments to individuals and increased federal unemployment benefits. The Paycheque Protection Program has served as a lifeline for millions of businesses.

But divisions between the two parties – and between the Republicans themselves – have served to bypass the talks so far. Democrats have insisted on over $ 2 trillion in revenue, which includes nearly $ 1 trillion for state and local governments. The White House insists it’s a non-starter.

“There is a deal to be made here if Democrats are to be reasonable,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an interview on CNBC Tuesday.

The White House and Republicans have repeatedly offered to scale back talks and adopt a more modest proposal as negotiations continued on more contentious issues. Democrats have rejected a piecemeal approach, making it clear that they will not accept anything that does not meet their full vision of current needs.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an interview with the Politico Playbook later Tuesday said Democrats were still seeking a short-term deal – and she continued to resist the idea that any relief effort should be built into a financing measure before the budget year. one year deadline at the end of September.

“I don’t want to have to wait for the (permanent resolution) at the end of September. The more people will die, the more jobs will be lost, ”said Pelosi, a Democrat from California. “We have to try to come to this agreement now. All they have to do is recognize the need. We are ready to cut our bill in half to meet needs now. ”

The 169-page GOP Senate General Proposal is expected to serve as a point of discussion among Senate Republicans in the coming weeks, with the idea being that it could be considered when they return to Washington in September, according to GOP assistants. It also serves as an additional item for White House negotiators and Democrats to consider.

The $ 10 billion funding level for the Postal Service is a nod to the tentative deal reached between Democratic and White House negotiators and will allow Republicans to point to the measure as a way to answer calls to Congress action in the run-up to elections.

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