McConnell proposes ‘targeted’ virus aid, Dems say not enough

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday the Senate would vote on a trimmed-down Republican coronavirus relief package, though it has a slim chance of passage in the face of Democrats’ insistence for more sweeping aid.

The Kentucky Republican released the approximately $500 billion measure as senators returned to Washington for an abbreviated pre-election session, as hopes are dimming for another coronavirus relief bill — or much else.

Republicans struggling to retain their Senate majority this fall have been divided, with some GOP senators in close races anxious to respond further to the pandemic, even as conservatives are tiring of all the spending and passing legislation in concert with liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

McConnell called the package “a targeted proposal that focuses on several of the most urgent aspects of this crisis, the issues where bipartisanship should be especially possible.” They included school aid, new money for vaccines and testing, and a second round of the popular Paycheck Protection Program for smaller businesses.

Democrats are demanding a far larger bill, including hundreds of billions of dollars for state and local governments, more generous jobless benefits, and help for renters and homeowners, along with other provisions in the House Democrats’ $3.5 billion relief bill that passed in May.

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