Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Thursday his chamber would be skipping the regularly scheduled August recess amid COVID-19 relief negotiations.
The Kentucky Republican accused Democrats of stonewalling a deal on the fifth round of coronavirus relief for the American people.
“The House has already skipped town, but the Senate won’t adjourn for August unless and until the Democrats demonstrate they will never let an agreement materialize,” Mr. McConnell said on the chamber floor. “A lot of Americans’ hopes — a lot of American lives — are riding on the Democrats’ endless talk. I hope they are not disappointed.”
He noted the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is set to expire Aug. 8, and the GOP proposal would have poured more money into the rescue funds for businesses in need.
Saturday is the deadline for anyone to apply for a loan that hasn’t received one, and many businesses that have are reaching the bottom of the funds.
“This is why Senate Republicans’ blueprint for another major rescue package would put $190 billion into a second draw of the PPP for the businesses that most need help. The House Democrats’ three-trillion-dollar wish-list totally left that out. They ignored the PPP; we want to re-up it,” Mr. McConnell noted.
“This is just one of many ways our serious proposal beats the absurd far-left wish-list which the Democrats’ own moderate members laughed out of the room,” he added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer have been meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows since last week, but they have not reached a compromise.
The GOP proposal sits around $1 trillion and is aimed at fundIng the reopening of schools, jobs and providing legal protections for medical workers, educators and businesses.
Democrats, meanwhile, say $1 trillion isn’t enough and have proposed a more than $3 trillion dollar package. They also want money to go towards preparing for more mail in voting and social distancing at the polls for the election this November.
Mr. Schumer said the GOP proposal was more like a “bandaid” and did not address money for food assistance, protections from evictions, or a pay raise for essential workers.
A sticking point between the two parties has been where to set weekly unemployment benefits, which lapsed at the end of July.
Democrats want to extend the $600 a week from the prior CARES Act passed in March, but Republicans are aiming for $200 a week, saying it is not fair to pay unemployed people more than some essential workers are making on the job.
The New York Democrat took a jab at President Trump and Mr. McConnell, noting neither of them has attended negotiations.
“Democrats are now the ones in the room. We are the ones in the room,” he said. “We are not going to agree to an inadequate bill.”
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