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Senate to vote this week on ‘skinny’ pandemic relief bill, PPP funds

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate will vote on a $ 300 billion Senate Republican coronavirus relief bill on Wednesday, well below the estimated $ 2 trillion Democrats demanded.

FILE PHOTO: Republican U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell sits onstage during a debate with Democratic Senate candidate Amy McGrath, in Lexington, Ky., US October 12, 2020. Michael Clubb / Pool via REUTERS

The bill, dubbed a “skinny” relief bill for its reduced funding, was already rejected here by Democrats in September and is set to fail again.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement on Saturday that the vote would follow a stand-alone vote on additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program (P3P) on Tuesday.

House of Commons Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke for an hour and 15 minutes on Saturday night and their staff will continue discussions, and they agreed to speak again on Monday, the spokesperson for the Treasure Monica Crowley on Twitter.

Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill said there was progress in coronavirus testing, but more work needs to be done to ensure there is a comprehensive testing plan.

He added that there are many other differences that need to be addressed comprehensively within the next 48 hours.

Hammill also said decisions need to be made by the White House to demonstrate that the administration is serious about reaching a bipartisan deal that provides for Americans most in need during the pandemic.

The White House declined to comment.

On October 10, Mnuchin proposed a $ 1.8 trillion economic stimulus proposal in talks with Pelosi, but many Republicans in the Senate opposed such a big package.

Time is running out ahead of the November 3 presidential election to reach agreement on a new coronavirus relief program.

These are just a few of the pressing needs that Washington should address immediately as debates continue on the rest, McConnell said.

In September, McConnell estimated the cost of the new PPP program at $ 257 billion.

Relief plans have remained bogged down on the right amount of funding and related issues such as coronavirus testing plans and a Republican push to shield companies from liability if their workers are infected on the job.

Airlines have pleaded with Congress for a new $ 25 billion bailout to keep workers at work after a six-month payroll assistance program expires on September 30. At least 32,000 airline workers were laid off this month after the funding ended.

Reporting by Katanga Johnson; Additional reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by David Gregorio and Christopher Cushing

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