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McConnell says Senate will vote on new small business relief funding before election

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) issued a statement on Tuesday saying that the Senate's "first order of business" when it returns on Oct. 19 will be to vote on "targeted relief for American workers," including new funding for the small business Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Why it matters: House Democrats, Senate Republicans and the Trump administration are still very far apart on key elements of a relief deal, and any push for smaller, more targeted legislation is more of a political maneuver than any thing else.

  • The Senate has largely been left out of the negotiating process between House Speaker Pelosi and the White House, and any deal that results from those conversations will likely not be supported by Senate Republicans.
  • This is McConnell’s way of showing Senate Republicans are still dedicated to some form of coronavirus stimulus, and could serve as a backstop in the event that a new bill is passed in the House that Republicans in the Senate deem unworkable. 

Driving the news: McConnell's statement comes one month after Senate Democrats filibustered a Republican "skinny bill" that focused on school aid, unemployment benefits and assistance for small businesses. Democrats called the package "piecemeal" and said it was "laden with poison pills Republicans know Democrats would never support."

What they're saying: “The PPP is a popular program that has saved tens of millions of American jobs. It is so bipartisan that its first round was replenished and extended several times by unanimous consent in both the Senate and the House," McConnell said in a statement.

  • “Democrats have spent months blocking policies they do not even oppose. They say anything short of their multi-trillion-dollar wish list, jammed with non-COVID-related demands, is “piecemeal” and not worth doing."
  • "Speaker Pelosi frequently says she feels “nothing” is better than “something.” And she has worked hard to ensure that nothing is what American families get."

Meanwhile: President Trump, who called off stimulus negotiations with Democrats last week, tweeted on Tuesday morning, "STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!" It's unlikely that a package the size that Trump and Democrats are negotiating will win the support of Senate Republicans.

Go deeper: Trump tells House GOP leader he wants a "big deal" on COVID relief

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