Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling two votes on stimulus relief this week, but one top Democrat has labeled it all a “stunt.”
The comments from Democratic U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York underscore how far apart the two sides remain as the election looms. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also a Democrat, even gave the GOP a 48-hour deadline that expires at the end of the day on October 20 to get stimulus relief done before the election.
The problem is that neither side will budge enough on the amount to appease the other; Pelosi’s side has passed and is pushing a $2.2 trillion bill. The White House countered with $1.8 trillion. But Republicans in the U.S. Senate aren’t happy with either amount, so McConnell is bring forth a vote Wednesday on a $500 billion figure. However, a bill in that amount was previously shot down by Democrats.
And so the debate remains stalled, with relief like a second round of COVID-19 stimulus checks hanging in the balance. The Tuesday vote by Senate Republicans will revolve around a narrower proposal to give small businesses more relief through the Paycheck Protection Program; however, they need 60 votes to get these bills through and are highly unlikely to accrue the Democratic support that’s needed.
Here’s what you need to know:
Schumer Called the Stimulus Vote a ‘Sham’
Schumer is the Senate minority leader so he holds a lot of clout in Congress. He made it clear that Democrats think the $500 billion vote is “a sham.” He didn’t say much about the separate vote on PPP though.
He called the $500 billion bill “inadequate, just up and down the line” and “a sham,” according to the Hill, adding, “It’s a stunt by Sen. McConnell.”
Schumer claimed the bill is too small and thus won’t “bring any relief to the American people.”
McConnell Has Split With the White House Over the Amount
Currently, Senate Republicans aren’t just at odds with Senate Democrats over the amount of a second stimulus relief bill; they’re also opposed to the White House plan for $1.8 trillion.
McConnell has increasingly made clear that he can’t get enough Republican votes to support a higher figure than $500 billion. “That’s where the administration is willing to go,” he said, according to the Hill. “My members think half a trillion dollars, highly targeted, is the best way to go.”
Meanwhile, Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have continued to meet to try to iron out their differences on a plan. Pelosi’s aide, Drew Hammill, wrote on Twitter on October 19:
The Speaker and Secretary Mnuchin spoke at 3:00 p.m. today for approximately 53 minutes. In this call, they continued to narrow their differences. The Speaker has tasked committee chairs to reconcile differences with their GOP counterparts on key areas. The Speaker continues to hope that, by the end of the day Tuesday, we will have clarity on whether we will be able to pass a bill before the election. The two principals will speak again tomorrow and staff work will continue around the clock.