- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants lawmakers to vote on a scaled-down stimulus this week.
- He introduced a bill Tuesday that would provide $105 billion to schools, $10 billion to the Postal Service, and $258 billion in loans to small businesses.
- The bill isn't likely to become law and instead is supposed to contrast Republicans with Democrats ahead of the election.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday unveiled what he called a "targeted" aid package to relieve the economy from the coronavirus pandemic.
The 285-page bill, called the Delivering Immediate Relief to America's Families, Schools, and Small Businesses Act, totals about $500 billion in relief. McConnell said Tuesday afternoon that he would set up a procedural vote on the bill this week.
The new stimulus is a scaled-down version of the $1 trillion bill Republicans introduced in July and is even less expansive than the $3.4 trillion legislation Democrats passed in May.
The latest bill isn't likely to become law or even pass the Senate. Instead — just like the bill House Democrats passed in May — it's a political messaging tool to put Senate Democrats on the spot ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
"I will make sure every Senate Democrat who has said they'd like to reach an agreement gets the opportunity to walk the walk," McConnell said in a statement Tuesday morning.
In return, Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi called McConnell's bill "emaciated" and said it "doesn't come close to addressing the problems" posed by the coronavirus pandemic. McConnell's bill is missing state funding and the popular second round of checks to individuals that Democrats included in their legislation. But it does contain money for the Postal Service and for schools.
In August, Democrats and Republicans reached a stalemate over the next phase of coronavirus relief legislation and don't appear any closer to a deal now.
Goldman Sachs Economics Research and Morgan Stanley policy analysts both wrote in notes to investors sent Monday that they still thought Congress would reach a deal in September.
But Henrietta Treyz, director of economic policy research for Veda Partners, said chances for a deal were slim.
"Assume it's not happening," she told investors about the possibility of a stimulus in a note sent Friday. On Tuesday, she pegged the odds of passing any stimulus in September at 20% to 30%.
Part of the reason for her assessment was that the unemployment rate has dropped to 8.4% — down from its 14.7% high in April. Republicans, Treyz said, are uncomfortable passing a stimulus that would further increase deficit spending. Congress will be in session only for a few weeks before returning to their home districts to campaign.
Read more: Meet the 24 most powerful people advising Trump on healthcare as the president vies for a second term
Here's what stood out when Business Insider combed through the Senate GOP bill.
Boosting jobless benefits by $300 a week — half the boost from the last stimulus
Republicans want people to receive $300 a week on top of their unemployment payments until the end of December.
The boost isn't as high as the $600-a-week increase to unemployment benefits that was established in March as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act. That provision expired at the end of July, and Democrats wanted to keep it going through the end of the year.
Through an executive order signed Aug. 10, President Donald Trump extended the boost to unemployment payments by $400 a week in states that chose to take up the option. Those payments were intended to last only about a month, putting pressure on Congress to act.
$105 billion for schools and colleges
The money is supposed to help schools reopen safely or run virtually. Colleges and schools across the US have moved to virtual classes after facing coronavirus outbreaks.
An additional $15 billion would go toward childcare grants.
Read more: 55 million kids are stuck at home, and the US economy is losing $50 billion a month: Inside the DC clash over how to help schools reopen safely
$258 billion in loans for small businesses
Congress already allocated $670 billion for small businesses to get forgivable loans through a fund called the Paycheck Protection Program. The GOP bill would add another $258 billion in loans.
To qualify, businesses must have 300 or fewer employees and show a 35% reduction in gross revenue in 2020 compared with the same quarter in 2019.
Protecting workplaces, hospitals, and businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits
The legislation includes the Safe to Work Act, which would protect businesses that are following healthcare guidelines from being sued by workers or customers who claim a business was the source of their infection.
Republicans are worried that employers and healthcare workers will stay closed because they otherwise fear a round of lawsuits.
Read more: Republicans are finalizing a plan to protect businesses from coronavirus litigation as lawsuits mount against Walmart, cruise lines, meatpacking plants, and nursing homes
Money to stop the virus through contact tracing and a vaccine
The bill boosts testing, contact tracing, and surveillance cash by $16 billion and boosts medical research for testing and treatment by $31 billion.
It would provide $6 billion to promote and distribute a coronavirus vaccine once it's found. The GOP bill also directs health officials to come up with a plan to get the vaccine out to people.
$10 billion for the Postal Service
Republicans excluded this provision in the plan they unveiled in July. The bill converts a $10 billion loan from an earlier stimulus into a grant.
An extended deadline but no new money for states
The bill extends the deadline for spending state money appropriated under the CARES Act to Sept. 30, 2021. States haven't spent most of the $150 billion that was set aside for them in that bill, and under current law the funds are set to expire at the end of 2020.
Democrats want nearly $1 trillion in federal funding to go to states and local governments to help avoid layoffs for teachers, firefighters, and police officers. The dispute over these funds has been one of the main areas of disagreement on Capitol Hill.
"Probably the biggest stumbling block that remains is the amount of money that would go to state and local help," White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said last week on CNBC.
No new checks for individuals
The stimulus passed in March provided $1,200 checks to most Americans and was a popular provision that Trump supported doing again. The GOP bill introduced Tuesday doesn't provide another round of checks, even though checks were part of the stimulus they introduced in July and part of House Democrats' bill.
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