Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected a bipartisan coronavirus stimulus proposal on Tuesday and introduced his own plan that includes no funding for a federal unemployment boost, The New York Times reports.
A bipartisan group of senators including Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Joe Manchin, and Mark Warner introduced a bill on Tuesday that would provide $900 billion in funding for a $300 per week unemployment boost, $160 billion in aid to states and local governments, $288 billion for small business loans, and temporary legal immunity for businesses while scrapping another round of $1,200 direct payments.
"We just don't have time to waste time," McConnell said in response to the proposal. "We don't have time for messaging games, we don't have time for lengthy negotiations. The issue is, we want to get a result."
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski criticized McConnell on a call with fellow Republicans, saying his “messaging” bill was “offensive” to suffering Americans.
McConnell plan: Tax breaks, no UI
McConnell’s previous offer included a $300 per week federal unemployment boost but his latest proposal includes $0 in funding for additional UI, though it includes a one-month extension of base federal benefits and benefits for independent contractors and gig workers. The plan also does not fund another round of direct payments.
The bill would include an “array of tax cuts,” including a deduction for business meals, and legal immunity for businesses.
It would also provide $300 billion for PPP loans, $31 billion to distribute vaccines, and $16 billion for testing.
Democratic Rep. Don Beyer said the proposal to create “tax write-offs for fancy lunches and gives the middle finger to working families” is a “slap in the face” to struggling Americans.
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden said McConnell’s push for “tax breaks for three-martini lunches” was “insulting to the American people.”
McConnell said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer sent a secret counterproposal to Republicans but neither side would say what it contained.
There is a growing push to pass a small bill in the lame-duck session before approaching a larger package once President-elect Joe Biden comes into office.
Biden called for Congress to pass a “robust package” but said any lame-duck bill would be "at best just a start."
"Additional COVID relief is long overdue and must be passed in this lame duck session," Pelosi said in a statement.