Senate Republicans offer ‘emaciated’ relief bill

Senate Republicans are setting up a vote on their own coronavirus stimulus package next week, but the bill is expected to be an extremely pared down proposal and comes months after House Democrats passed a relief package that would have kept jobless benefits from expiring earlier this summer.

Democrats and Republicans have been negotiating for weeks over what to include in the next round of coronavirus relief aid. Millions of Americans were left hanging when Senate Republicans couldn’t get enough votes for a bill that would’ve stopped enhanced unemployment benefits from running out.

In contrast, Democrats in the House back in May approved $3 trillion coronavirus relief proposal that would have extended enhanced unemployment benefits, offered nearly $200 billion in rental assistance, and provided significant funding for election security and food assistance.

Senate Republicans said the the stimulus package they plan to vote on next week would have a price tag of about $500 billion, about half what the White House was proposing in July and August.

It would have scaled back unemployment benefits, Paycheck Protection Program loans, and funding for a coronavirus vaccine, but would exclude a second round of stimulus checks and funding for state governments that Democrats included in their offer.

Democrats have balked at the smaller package. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the Republican plan “emaciated” in a letter to his Democratic colleagues.

“Republicans may call their proposal ‘skinny,’ but it would be more appropriate to call it ‘emaciated,’” Schumer wrote. “With no money for rental assistance, no money for nutrition assistance, and no money for state and local services, the census, or safe elections, Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans would be making another unacceptable and ineffective attempt at providing relief.”

Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have repeatedly called on their colleagues to reject piecemeal plans.

“It was our unity against a partisan, Republican first draft that allowed for significant improvements to be made; improvements that have benefited millions upon millions of Americans and helped our economy,” Schumer wrote. “We should strive for, and hope we can achieve, another comprehensive, bipartisan bill that meets the moment facing our nation.”

In his letter, Schumer called out Trump and his chief of staff for delivering the bare minimum to American citizens.

“President Trump, led by Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, has embraced a hardline view that the federal government should be doing less, not more, during this time of national crisis,” he wrote. “Based on their self-described lack of urgency, the continued division of their caucus, and this most recent inadequate proposal, it is clear Republicans are trying to ‘check the box’ and give the appearance of action rather than actually meet the truly profound needs of the American people.”

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