WASHINGTON — House Democrats will vote Wednesday evening on a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill, the latest attempt at a relief plan as negotiations drag on with the White House on a bipartisan deal to help Americans struggling from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The proposal, a pared-down version of the legislation passed by House Democrats in May, will likely pass the House, but will face opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate, where lawmakers have balked at a higher price tag for more relief.
House Democrats unveiled the proposal Monday, though House Republicans panned the bill as a “socialist wish list” and said they would oppose it.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters Wednesday it would be “outlandish” to think Republicans would be on board with a $2 trillion bill, though he said he and other Republicans want to see relief for Americans.
“I mean we had 52 out of 53 republicans willing to spend roughly a half a trillion dollars,” McConnell added of a scaled-down $300 billion bill that was blocked in the Senate. “The thought that Senate Republicans would go up to 2.2 trillion is outlandish.”
Pelosi said in a statement the vote Wednesday night would “formalize our proffer to Republicans in the negotiations.”
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Following meetings on Capitol Hill Wednesday, including his first in-person meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi since August, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters, “We made a lot of progress over the last few days, we still don’t have an agreement, but we have more work to do. And we’re going to see where we end up.”
Asked if he would be able to negotiate a deal over $1.5 trillion, Mnuchin said, “We’re going to go back and do a little more work again.”
The impasse in negotiations comes as many of the benefits previously approved by Congress have already run out. The $600 federal boost to unemployment benefits halted in July, a loan forgiveness program for small businesses expired, and airlines have warned of mass layoffs as their billions of dollars in federal payroll assistance expire on Oct. 1.
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“Tomorrow, tens of thousands of airline workers will be furloughed if the program is not extended,” said Airlines for America President and CEO Nicholas Calio in a statement.
Democrats and Republicans have been unable to agree on a stimulus deal despite months of negotiations. Talks fell apart in August leading President Donald Trump to sign several executive orders on COVID-19 relief. Trump’s orders however, don’t address a number of programs that ended over the summer.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, walks from the office of Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Ky., as he leaves the Capitol, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, in Washington.
House Democrats’ latest proposal would provide a round of $1,200 relief checks, reauthorize a small-business lending program, bring back the $600 federal boost to the unemployment benefit through January and provide assistance for the airline industry.
The bill includes:
$225 billion in education funding, with $182 billion for K-12 schools and about $39 billion for post-secondary education.
$120 billion in grants for restaurants.
$436 billion in assistance for state, local and tribal governments.
$75 billion for COVID-19 testing, tracing and isolation measures.
$15 billion in funding for the U.S. Postal Service.
Increased food assistance benefits.
Among the sticking points in negotiations has been the amount of the unemployment benefit, which Republicans said could disincentivize work if the amount is too much. Democrats offered $600 in their proposals, whereas Republicans offered $200 and $300 in other proposals.
Both sides also remain far apart on the amount of aid to give to state and local governments. Republicans are wary of adding to the deficit and say the money would bail out mismanaged local governments.
Contributing: Christal Hayes
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID-19 stimulus: House to vote on bill with more $1,200 checks