Lawmakers have begun discussing a number of proposals, including toughening liability protections for businesses, providing aid to states and watering down unemployment benefits approved in the $2.2 trillion stimulus package. But some Republicans have begun pushing back at the idea of more federal spending, raising the specter of the ballooning national debt.
In a joint statement, Mr. Schumer and Mr. Sanders said the budget office’s estimate undercut Republican arguments that Congress should wait to approve another relief package, as well as President Trump’s call to include tax cuts in the next measure.
“In order to avoid the risk of another Great Depression, the Senate must act with a fierce sense of urgency to make sure that everyone in America has the income they need to feed their families and put a roof over their heads,” the senators said. “The American people cannot afford to wait another month for the Senate to pass legislation. They need our help now.”
Later, on the Senate floor, Mr. Schumer called on the chamber to address before the end of the month not only coronavirus relief measures, but police violence, arguing that lawmakers should not “spend time on fringe conspiracy theories, not spend time on putting right-wing judges who have shown no sympathy to civil rights and racial justice and harmony on the floor of the Senate.”
But Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, gave little indication that the Senate would soon enter negotiations on another relief package. Instead, he announced on Monday, he hoped that the Senate would take up a measure that would soften the terms of a federal loan program intended to help small businesses during the pandemic.
The House approved the measure on Friday, 417 to 1. The legislation would give companies more time and flexibility to use the money, altering the Paycheck Protection Program to allow small businesses 24 weeks instead of eight weeks to spend the loan funds.
“These events only compound what has already been a historically challenging time for our country,” Mr. McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor. “As our nation continues to combat and contain the coronavirus, the Senate will continue to lead the response.”