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

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

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

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

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement Saturday that the vote would follow a standalone vote on additional Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds on Tuesday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were scheduled to talk at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday before Mnuchin departs on a Middle East trip.

Pelosi told MSNBC on Friday that she and Mnuchin were “making progress” but said there were still significant areas of disagreement.

On Oct. 10, Mnuchin proposed a $1.8 trillion economic stimulus proposal in talks with Pelosi but many Senate Republicans have balked at a package that big.

Time is winding down before the Nov. 3 presidential election to reach agreement on a new coronavirus relief package.

“These are just some of the urgent needs that Washington should meet immediately while debates continue over the rest,” McConnell said.

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

Relief plans have remain bogged down over the appropriate amount of funding and related issues like coronavirus testing plans and a Republican push to protect companies from liability if their workers get infected on the job.

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Airlines have pleaded with Congress for a new $25 billion bailout to keep workers on the job after a prior six-month payroll assistance program expired on Sept. 30. At least 32,000 airlines workers have been laid off this month after funding ended.

Reporting by Katanga Johnson; Additional reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Heather Timmons and David Gregorio

https://static.reuters.com/resources/r/?m=02&d=20201017&t=2&i=1537884237&r=LYNXMPEG9G0PQ&w=800

Source: Reuters

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