UPDATE: The Senate voted today on the “skinny” coronavirus relief bill. The bill needed 60 votes to pass and failed with a vote of 52-47 with all Democrats blocking passage.
On Tuesday, September 8, 2020 Senate Majority Leader McConnell introduced a new COVID-19 relief bill in a bid to restart negotiations which have been stalled since late July. In a press release, Senator McConnell said, “Today, the Senate Republican majority is introducing a new targeted proposal, focused on some of the very most urgent healthcare, education, and economic issues. It does not contain every idea our party likes. I am confident Democrats will feel the same. Yet Republicans believe the many serious differences between our two parties should not stand in the way of agreeing where we can agree and making law that helps our nation.”
The bill, called the “Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act,” is being referred to as “targeted,” or “skinny,” as it includes a far narrower set of proposals than either the House HEROES Act or the Senate HEALS Act.
The bill’s main provisions include:
- Liability protection
- Expansion and simplification of PPP loans
- A temporary tax credit for contribution toward educational scholarship-granting organizations
- Assistance for the Postal Service
- $300 per week in extra federal unemployment benefit through Dec. 27
- Various direct appropriations for education and healthcare
According to some analysts, this proposal from the Senate Leader is more a strategic maneuver than policy proposal. A senior GOP Senator acknowledged that there is no expectation that the bill will reach the 60-vote requirement for passage. There is considerable disagreement among Republican Senators as to the extent of future relief legislation. This bill enables Leader McConnell to get a majority in the Senate to go on record in support of additional relief legislation. Democrats have already expressed strong opposition to the bill.
Absent from the bill are expansions of the employee retention credit and work opportunity tax credit. Both of those policies are still supported by members of both parties and may yet appear if a compromise package emerges.