US Senate to vote on $500bn Covid-19 bill on Wednesday

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Washington, Oct 18 (IANS) The Republican-majority US Senate will vote on a $500 billion coronavirus relief bill on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced.

McConnell’s announcement on Saturday comes after President Donald Trump’s administration made a new $1.8 trillion package offer on October 9.

According to the Senate Majority leader, the new bill will include a federal unemployment benefit, another round of small-business assistance under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), more than $100 billion for schools, as well as money for testing, contact tracing, and vaccine development and distribution, The Hill news website reported.

For the new bill to pass in the Senate, it will need 60 Democratic votes.

Democratic lawmakers had previously blocked a similar Republican legislation.

“Nobody thinks this $500 billion proposal would resolve every problem forever. It would deliver huge amounts of additional help to workers and families right now while Washington keeps arguing over the rest,” The Hill news website quoted McConnell as saying in his announcement.

On Tuesday, the Senate is expected to vote on a stand-alone PPP proposal, which would also require 60 Democratic votes to pass.

In July, Republicans initially offered a $1.1 trillion package, but 52 Republican Senators later backed a scaled-down $500 billion bill.

Negotiations between the White House and Capitol Hill on a fifth round of stimulus have dragged on since the end of July without an agreement.

–IANS

ksk/