Senate Republicans Propose ‘Skinny’ Stimulus Bill That Democrats Already Hate

( Senate Republicans are set to vote on a “skinny” version of a coronavirus stimulus bill, though it’s uncertain that it will even garner enough votes to pass their Chamber, let alone pass in the Democrat-led House.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Tuesday that he would force a floor vote on the bill this week. That vote could come as early as Thursday.

Even if the bill doesn’t pass through the Senate or the House, it will at least begin to force Democrats’ hands to come back to the negotiating table.

As McConnell said of the new bill:

“It does not contain every idea our party likes. I am confident Democrats will feel the same. Yet, Republicans believe the many serious differences between our two parties should not stand in the way of agreeing where we can agree and making law that helps our nation.”

It has been close to a month since the sides have talked in earnest about a potential economic stimulus package. Congress just recently returned from its scheduled August recess.

The $1 trillion package that Republicans proposed in July never even made it to a floor vote. So, this will mark the first time in a while that the Senate will formally debate and vote on a coronavirus-related stimulus bill.

This latest version totals $500 billion, about half of what they initially proposed and way off from the $2.2 trillion package the Democrats are pushing for.

This “skinny” bill includes extending the federal boost to unemployment benefits through December 27. The amount would drop from $600 per week to $300 per week.

It also includes more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program as well as liability protections for businesses — something that McConnell has been pushing since the spring. It also includes a provision that would forgive a $10 billion loan that was given to the United States Postal Service through the CARES Act that was passed back in March.

Other provisions the bill includes are $105 billion for schools, $16 billion for coronavirus testing and contact tracing, and $31 billion for the development of a vaccine and as well as therapeutics.

One thing the bill does not contain is another round of direct payments to Americans. This fact, among other things, is one reason Democrats have already denounced the proposal.

On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said:

“There’s a good chance they (Republicans) feel the pressure once they see the Democrats are not going to fold to this emaciated bill, which leaves so much out. The pressure will mount on them.

“Our bill meets the needs of the American people. Their bill meets the needs of a few ideologues who don’t want to vote for anything, but they’re feeling such pressure from the public, they have to come to the floor.”

Despite Schumer’s comments, which skirt the fact that Democrats haven’t budged from their position, it’s possible that the debate on the Republicans’ bill could force negotiations to start again.

And if nothing else, that would be progress at this point.