- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 17, 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell teed up votes for two separate coronavirus relief bills next week, all but daring Democrats to block them.

“Republicans have tried numerous times to secure bipartisan agreement where possible and get aid out the door while these endless talks continue. But Speaker Pelosi keeps saying she feels “nothing” is better than “something” and clinging to far-left demands that are designed to kill any hope of a deal,” the Kentucky Republican said in a statement.

“It is heartless for Democrats to continue their total blockade of any aid whatsoever unless Speaker Pelosi gets her way on countless non-COVID-related demands,” he continued.

First, on Tuesday, there will be a vote on a stand-alone bill to refill funds for the small business Paycheck Protection Program.

Then, on Wednesday, a vote is set on a slimmed-down package with a more than $500 billion price tag. It will include an extension of enhanced unemployment benefits and more than $100 billion for schools, as well as additional funds for testing, contact tracing, and vaccine research.

The last time Senate Republicans brought up a “skinny” bill was September and it was blocked on a procedural vote by a united Democratic front.

This latest effort comes after Senate Democrats accused the GOP throughout Judge Amy Coney Barett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings of prioritizing a divisive judicial appointment over work on coronavirus relief.

Mr. McConnell said if the procedural votes pass successfully this week, there will be enough time for the bills to get through the Senate before they take on the final votes for Judge Barrett’s confirmation.

Meanwhile, negotiations between Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, for a comprehensive package continue throughout the weekend. The two sides have been chipping away at a deal between the White House’s $1.8 trillion offer and the Democrat’s $2.2 trillion proposal.

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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