McConnell plans vote on COVID-19 relief bill including PPP
In what appears to be a challenge to Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday that the Senate will hold a vote on a COVID-19 relief bill including a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program on Oct. 19.
McConnell did not say whether there would be agricultural aid in the package. When a reporter told Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, of McConnell’s planned vote, Grassley said he did not know about it. Grassley added that he would want the $20 billion in previous Senate Republican COVID-19 packages but that he doubted it would be included. McConnell wants to show that the Republicans can take action before the election, Grassley said.
A spokeswoman for Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Hoeven, R-N.D., said, “Senator Hoeven continues to advocate for the inclusion of additional agriculture assistance in any targeted package considered by the Senate, including in the legislation the Senate is expected to consider next week.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a letter to House members on Tuesday that the Trump administration’s latest offer was insufficient.
“A fly on the wall or wherever else it might land in the Oval Office tells me that the president only wants his name on a check to go out before Election Day and for the market to go up,” Pelosi wrote. “The American people want us to have an agreement to protect lives, livelihoods and the life of our American democracy. Democrats are determined to do so!”
On Monday, Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., became the first progressive to urge Pelosi to make a deal on aid before the election. Pelosi had previously been under pressure from moderate Democrats worried about their re-election prospects. But Pelosi held her ground, and her letter to members Tuesday included quotes from key committee chairs supporting her views.
In a statement on the Senate schedule, McConnell said, “[Treasury] Secretary [Steve] Mnuchin and [White House] Chief of Staff [Mark] Meadows are right: There is no excuse for Democrats to keep blocking job-saving funding for the Paycheck Protection Program while other conversations continue.
“The PPP is a popular program that has saved tens of millions of American jobs. It is so bipartisan that its first round was replenished and extended several times by unanimous consent in both the Senate and the House. But it has become yet another casualty of Democrats’ all-or-nothing obstruction.
“Last month, 52 Senate Republicans voted to pass hundreds of billions more dollars for priorities like testing, healthcare, safe schools, unemployment benefits, and economic support. That included legislation from [Senate Small Business Committee] Chairman Rubio, R-Fla., and Senator [Susan] Collins [R-Maine] that would provide a second round of the PPP for the hardest-hit small businesses while streamlining the program and strengthening oversight.
“Republicans had the votes to pass all this relief. But Senate Democrats chose to filibuster it dead.
“Democrats have spent months blocking policies they do not even oppose. They say anything short of their multi-trillion-dollar wish list, jammed with non-COVID-related demands, is ‘piecemeal’ and not worth doing. Speaker Pelosi frequently says she feels ‘nothing’ is better than ‘something.’ And she has worked hard to ensure that nothing is what American families get.
“When the full Senate returns on October 19, our first order of business will be voting again on targeted relief for American workers, including new funding for the PPP. Unless Democrats block this aid for workers, we will have time to pass it before we proceed as planned to the pending Supreme Court nomination as soon as it is reported by the [Senate] Judiciary Committee.
“Republicans do not agree that nothing is better than something for working families. The American people need Democrats to stop blocking bipartisan funding and let us replenish the PPP before more Americans lose their jobs needlessly.”