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Senate Republicans Release Stimulus Proposal, Already Clashing with Democrats

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Senate Republicans Release Stimulus Proposal, Already Clashing with Democrats

2020-07-28 16:55:13

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Mitch McConnell (Image source: Screenshot)

It seemed like it may never happen, but the Senate has finally released its proposal for the next stimulus package. This is after many arguments with the White House and amongst the senators. Yet, that doesn't mean you'll have money in your pocket very soon. There are still questions of whether the GOP really agrees, and the Democrats are certainly not on board with it.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released the Senate Republicans' proposal that is intended to give stimulus relief to the country as it continues to go through the coronavirus pandemic. He outlined the proposal, which will include a second round of stimulus checks, additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, a reduction in the extra unemployment benefits, liability protection, and more than $100 billion for schools.

"Which version of our distinguished Democratic colleagues are the American people about to get?" McConnell asked on the Senate floor. "Are they going to get the Democratic Party we got in March when our colleagues met in good faith negotiations and worked with us to turn our framework into a bipartisan product?"

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) admitted to being "somewhat frustrated" with Senate Republicans after they finished a closed-door sessional with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House Chief of staff.

"We had hoped there would be a bill. Instead, in the Senate, they put together little pieces here, and there, and everywhere," complained Schumer on Monday night. "It's pretty clear they don't have 51 votes in the Senate among the Republicans for a proposal. It's frustrating."

Pelosi repeatedly said the Republican package had $2 billion for the FBI, including funding to help renovate the bureau's headquarters building, which is across the street from the Trump International Hotel.

"This isn't serious," she said. "This is wrong. We have to do what's right for the American people."

The Senate Republicans' plan is calling for the extra unemployment benefit to be reduced from $600 to $200 per week for 60 days or until states are able to provide a 70 percent wage replacement. The White House had first discussed the change last week, yet it wasn't known whether state unemployment agencies could handle this change.

"The boosted unemployment benefits are significantly more than the Democratic Senate and Democratic president approved in the 2009 economic crisis," said Senate Finance Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on Monday.

The new package also provides more flexibility in the $150 billion in state funds from the CARES Act and extends the time it can be used. Also included is liability protection for businesses and schools in the event of lawsuits because of exposure to the coronavirus.

Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL)  said the bill includes $16 billion in additional money to expand state testing. This would be in addition to the $9 billion that has already been spent. Also included is $26 billion for the development and distribution of vaccines, $105 billion to help schools reopen, $20 billion to aid farmers and ranchers, and nearly $30 billion to "bolster the U.S. defense industrial base."

Also thrown into the bill is close to $2 billion for the FBI to purchase more PPE and boost the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a priority the White House insisted on. McConnell was asked about it and said, "Obviously, we had to have an agreement with the administration in order to get started."

"They can't even put one bill together, they are so divided," Schumer said of the Republicans while on the Senate floor. "The greatest crisis America has faced in close to a century of health, 75 years on the economy, and our Republican colleagues can't even agree among themselves about what to do and have put out a few piecemeal pieces that don't even come close to doing the job."

"It's good that they called it skinny because that's what you get when you don't have enough to eat," Pelosi cracked because of the lack of any food stamp money in the plan.

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) criticized the plan to drop the extra money for the jobless. "It is the ultimate disconnect with what Americans are dealing with if they think an extra $200 is enough for the families," he said. "They don't seem to understand that money is actually supporting that economy."

Democrats aren't completely ruling out the possibility of a short-term extension of the $600 weekly benefit that is set to expire at the end of this week, but they are skeptical of the GOP's efforts because of the time wasted before starting the negotiations.

"My view is, we passed the Heroes Act 2-1/2 months ago. It was a comprehensive and decisive response to a deadly pandemic. The administration and Mitch McConnell have done nothing ever since," said House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). 

"It's time to act and act in a transformative way, and not with a short time Band-Aid-like fix."

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