Washington, Oct 13 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the US Congress should “go big” on a second coronavirus stimulus package even as his fellow Republicans in the Senate set a vote on a bill that falls far short of both the White House proposal and the measure already passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.
“STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!,” the president tweeted a week after announcing that the White House would end talks with House Democrats on new steps to address the economic impact of Covid-19, which has claimed more than 215,000 lives in the United States.
Trump reversed course within 72 hours and his administration increased the value of its offer from $1.1 trillion to $1.8 trillion.
While Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls the White House plan inadequate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell views the sum as too large.
Using an expedited procedure, both chambers approved a $2.2 trillion package in March, when much of the US economy was shut down to slow the spread of the virus.
In May, House Democrats passed a second bill, the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act. Early this month, they approved a revised version of that legislation with a price-tag of $2.2 trillion.
The Senate refused to take up the House measure. The Republican leadership drafted a plan to spend $1.1 trillion, but McConnell decided against holding a vote on that idea and Democratic senators blocked a GOP bill calling for $500 billion in spending.
McConnell announced Tuesday that the Senate will vote next week on another $500 billion proposal.
“When the full Senate returns on October 19th, our first order of business will be voting again on targeted relief for American workers, including new funding for the PPP,” the Kentucky lawmaker said in a statement, referring to the Paycheck Protection Program.
The PPP, which provided assistance to small and medium-sized businesses with an eye toward preserving jobs at those firms, expired in August along with the $600 a week in additional unemployment benefits that were part of the relief enacted in March.
McConnell’s decision to hold a vote on the stimulus bill marks a departure from his position as recently as last week, when he said that confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court would be the Senate’s top “priority,” expressing skepticism about agreement on pandemic relief ahead of the Nov. 3 elections.
“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 Judiciary Committee,” the majority leader said Tuesday.
Earlier Tuesday, Pelosi said in a letter to House Democrats that the latest proposal from the White House “amounted to one step forward, two steps back.”
“Over 215,000 Americans have died, nearly 7.8 million have been infected and millions more are still without jobs or income security and therefore struggling to make rent and put food on the table,” she wrote. “Tragically, the Trump proposal falls significantly short of what this pandemic and deep recession demand.” EFE ssa/dr