Democrats voted against a paired-down coronavirus stimulus bill put forth this week by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
Senate Republicans unveiled a dozen spending bills to kickstart negotiations with Democrats about keeping the government open past December 11.
Yet Democrats blasted the lack of additional relief funds to confront the pandemic.
“This country is headed for a deadly winter and it is long past time for us to provide the resources the country needs to get this virus under control and our economy back open,” Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy said in a statement. “These bills do not provide any such relief.”
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Senate Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a dozen bills to keep the government funded through September 2021, which will kick off negotiations with House Democrats to avoid a shutdown next month.
Yet Democrats are already criticizing the $1.4 trillion spending bills, saying they don’t provide additional pandemic aid funding.
“This country is headed for a deadly winter and it is long past time for us to provide the resources the country needs to get this virus under control and our economy back open. These bills do not provide any such relief,” Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, said in a statement. “It is imperative that we do what is necessary to stop this pandemic from spreading.”
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington called it “one-sided, inadequate legislation” and assailed a lack of additional funds in the healthcare and labor legislation.
Republicans so far are pushing to keep coronavirus relief measures separate from the 12 must-pass spending bills that fund government agencies. Congress must approve them by December 11 to avert a government shutdown.
It previously passed a short-term funding extension in September. But both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have indicated they want to pass spending bills for fiscal 2021 during the lame duck session. It is unclear whether President Donald Trump will support the spending plan.
The GOP bills included funding for a border wall with Mexico, which has long been a priority for the president. He presided over the longest shutdown in US history in early 2019.
Democrats and Republicans are still far apart on crafting and passing a coronavirus relief package. They diverge on overall spending levels and some priorities like state aid. Republicans are pressing for a narrow rescue plan while Democrats want a much larger one.
But McConnell — who is reportedly taking a larger role in the next round of talks — suggested last week additional funds could be included for cash-strapped state and local governments.
It’s highly uncertain whether a pandemic aid package will pass before next month or if it will be punted to early next year after President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in.
“Both sides are saying they want one, but both sides are saying they want the one they want,” Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri told reporters on Capitol Hill on Monday about a stimulus plan. “So we’ll see.”
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