Senate to vote on ‘skinny’ COVID-19 relief bill and PPP funds

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WASHINGTON – The United States Senate will vote on a $ 300 billion Senate Republican Coronavirus relief bill on Wednesday, well below the $ 2 trillion Democrats demanded.The bill, dubbed a “skinny” relief bill for its reduced funding, was already rejected here by Democrats in September and is set to fail again.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement on Saturday that the vote would follow a stand-alone vote on additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program (P3P) on Tuesday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke for an hour and 15 minutes on Saturday evening and their staff “will continue discussions, and they agreed to speak again on Monday,” the spokesperson for the Treasure Monica Crowley on Twitter.

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said there was progress in coronavirus testing, but ‚Äúthere is still work to be done to ensure there is a comprehensive testing plan. ”

He added that there are many other differences “which need to be addressed comprehensively within the next 48 hours.”

Hammill also said that “decisions must be made by the White House to demonstrate that the administration is serious about reaching a bipartisan deal that will provide for Americans in greatest need during the pandemic.” ”

The White House declined to comment.

On October 10, Mnuchin proposed a $ 1.8 trillion economic stimulus proposal in talks with Pelosi, but many Senate Republicans opposed such a large package.

Time is running out ahead of the November 3 presidential election to reach agreement on a new coronavirus relief program.

“These are just a few of the urgent needs that Washington should address immediately while debates continue on the rest,” McConnell said.

In September, McConnell estimated the cost of the new PPP program at $ 257 billion.

Relief plans have remained bogged down on the right amount of funding and related issues such as coronavirus testing plans and a Republican push to shield companies from liability if their workers are infected on the job.

Airlines have pleaded with Congress for a new $ 25 billion bailout to keep workers at work after a six-month payroll assistance program expires on September 30. At least 32,000 airline workers were laid off this month after the funding ended.

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