Top Senate Democrat says good chance coronavirus aid bill will pass

Bloomberg Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Bloomberg Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

McConnell, R-Ky., said the bill was "multi-hundred billion dollar [s]" in value on the Senate floor on Tuesday, while he noted it was "targeted" and focused on "several of the most urgent" issues, including support for the unemployed, schools and small businesses.

The bill is expected to have more unemployment benefits, Paycheck Protection Program funding, protections for lawsuits related to coronavirus, and more money for schools and testing, The Hill reported.

The bill, which some senior Republican aides described as a $300 billion package that was reduced from the $1 trillion McConnell advocated in July, would face a vote on Thursday.

Republican aides said the bill includes $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service, which is girding for a large number of mail-in ballots for the November 3 elections as a result of people fearful of voting in person because of the virus.

The latest bill also does not include provisions for another round of stimulus checks, which appeared to be a provision that both parties had agreed on.

Weekly supplemental unemployment benefits would resume at US$300, down from US$600 in the CARES Act that was approved in the spring. "Republicans are making yet another overture". But "the inability to get 51 GOP votes would be a big defeat for the White House and Senate GOP leadership", Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer argue at Politico's Playbook newsletter.

Democrats dismissed the proposal as an "emaciated" bill that they said was created to simply provide political cover to Republican senators in tough re-election campaigns this year, instead of a bill that could be enacted into law.

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The Senate is getting back to work Tuesday after its August recess, and along with averting a government shutdown at the end of September, their agenda includes trying to pass a COVID-19 economic relief package.

The Republican-controlled Senate proposed the $1 trillion HEALS Act during their last session, but Democrats don't believe it goes far enough. The CARES Act provided $1,200 checks to individuals who make up to a certain amount and $500 for children.

Republicans and Democrats reached an impasse after they couldn't agree on the cost of the bill.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows blamed Pelosi for the talks falling through.

There were discussions between the White House and Democrat leaders over a "skinny" stimulus bill, but those talks fell through.

Summer Lin is a McClatchy Real-Time News Reporter.

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