The Senate is preparing to vote this week on a trimmed-down Republican coronavirus relief package, though it only has a slim chance of passage in the face of Democrats’ insistence for more sweeping aid.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky released the approximately $500 billion measure on Tuesday as senators returned to Washington for an abbreviated pre-election session.
McConnell called the package “a targeted proposal that focuses on several of the most urgent aspects of this crisis."
“The people who have really been hammered in this pandemic are people who work in the hospitality field for hotels and restaurants," McConnell said during a stop in Bowling Green recently. "Those folks, in the proposal I put together for another round, would get another check for $1,200, to try to lift them.”
McConnell said the economy is bouncing back from the pandemic, but he thinks small businesses could use another round Payroll Protection Program loans. The PPP offers forgivable loans if businesses maintain their employment numbers.
McConnell spoke at freight company Taz Trucking in Warren County. President Tahir Zukic said the first round of the PPP was a "lifesaver" to his company of 155 employees.
McConnell also wants another stimulus to include enhanced unemployment benefits, although not as generous as the $600 per week that workers received at the height of the pandemic. His proposal also includes liability protections for employers.
The Republican leader, however, is casting doubt an agreement can be reached this close to the Nov. 3 election.
“I must tell you the environment in Washington is exceedingly partisan because of the proximity to the election," McConnell said. "Back when we passed the CARES Act, we actually ended up passing it without a dissenting vote, but that March and April, and here we are in September.”