But with the coronavirus pandemic and the impact on the economy still dominating the concerns of voters, McConnell and GOP senators have spent the month of August in private discussions trying to find unity behind a plan roughly half the size of their last proposal. Yet there are still several members threatening to vote against the emerging proposal as they push GOP leaders to include their ideas into the plan.
“I will be moving immediately today to set up a floor vote as soon as this week,” McConnell said in a Tuesday statement. The Senate is expected to hold the procedural vote on Thursday, according to a GOP leadership aide.
The move amounts to a gamble for the Senate GOP leader, given that Republicans privately concede they are still short of the 51 votes they are seeking in order to bolster their election-year argument against the Democrats, who pushed a $3 trillion-plus plan through the House in May.
If McConnell’s new measure falls short of 51 votes, it is bound to feed Democratic attacks that the GOP remains in disarray over new economic relief measures with millions out of work and just weeks ahead of a hugely consequential election with control of the Senate at stake.
But even if the bill wins over 51 GOP senators, it will still fall far short of the 60 votes needed to break a Democratic filibuster, meaning the impasse over a new round of stimulus will persist amid months of bitter partisan bickering.
“It does not contain every idea our party likes,” McConnell said of the new plan. “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.”
The bill is expected to include aid for schools, small businesses, the US Postal Service and an extension of jobless benefits at $300 a week, down from the $600 in weekly benefits that expired in July. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has called the plan “emaciated,” and has joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s call to back at least $2.2 trillion for a new stimulus, a price tag the White House and McConnell have rejected.
“Republicans appear dead-set on another bill which doesn’t come close to addressing the problems and is headed nowhere,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement released Tuesday. “If anyone doubts McConnell’s true intent is anything but political, just look at the bill. This proposal is laden with poison pills Republicans know Democrats would never support. “
The White House is keenly interested in trying to secure the necessary votes as well. Over the weekend, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows spoke with GOP senators by phone to hear out their concerns, sources…
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