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“Slimmed Down” COVID-19 Relief Bill with Renewed PPP Heading to Vote This Week, Unlikely to Pass

  • Senate Republicans introduce legislation providing a second round of Paycheck Protection Program funding, additional unemployment benefits, and other COVID-19 relief
  • The measure may face opposition from within the party, and Democratic leaders have criticized it as an inadequate response to the economic fallout caused by the pandemic
  • As the November election approaches, moderates in Congress are under increased pressure to come to a consensus on COVID-19 relief following a breakdown in negotiations this summer

Senate Republicans have introduced a “slimmed down” bill for a new round of COVID-19 relief, including renewed funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, and a vote on the legislation is expected tomorrow. However, approval is unlikely due to staunch opposition from Democrats as well as some potential “no” votes from fiscal hawks on the Republican side of the aisle.

The bill is expected to cost $500 billion to $700 billion, with some funds coming from unspent cash allocated to Federal Reserve facilities. Key components include $258 billion for new PPP funding targeted at small businesses, a $300 per week unemployment supplement, $105 billion for schools, $47 billion for vaccines and testing, and a $10 billion grant to the United States Postal Service.

Democratic leaders have blasted the proposal as “emaciated,” saying it is inadequate to address the economic issues brought on by the pandemic. They also criticize the bill as having “poison pills” such as liability protections for companies and tax credits for private school costs.

Since passing the bipartisan CARES Act at the outset of the pandemic, Democrats and Republicans have struggled to find a compromise on COVID-19 relief. House Democrats initially proposed a $3.4 trillion bill, though they have since said they would be willing to accept funding closer to $2 trillion. Senate Republicans floated a $1 trillion proposal, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged that as many as 20 Senate Republicans might have opposed this measure due to concerns over increasing the budget deficit.

Both parties have lobbed accusations of political maneuvering and failing to negotiate in good faith during a contentious election year. The gridlock is putting increased pressure on moderate lawmakers in both the House and Senate, while also raising concerns about further economic fallout as numerous companies warn that they may need to lay off thousands of workers due to revenue shortfalls.

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