Share
October 19, 2020 3:15 PM, EDT

Sen. Mitch McConnell Announces Oct. 21 Vote on COVID-19 Relief Package

Sen. Mitch McConnellSen. Mitch McConnell says a new stimulus package would focus on expanded unemployment benefits and bolster a loan program for struggling small businesses. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg News)

[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]

Senators this week will be asked whether to approve about $500 billion in COVID-19 emergency aid.

The chamber’s leader, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, announced he would schedule a vote on a package that would seek to expand unemployment benefits, as well as enhance a loan program for struggling small businesses.

The Senate vote is likely to occur Oct. 21.

Eugene Mulero

Mulero

“These are just some of the urgent needs that Washington should meet immediately while debates continue over the rest. This is half a trillion dollars of good that Congress can do right now,” McConnell argued as he took aim at emergency relief negotiations with House Democrats. He said: “It is heartless for Democrats to continue their total blockade of any aid whatsoever unless Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi gets her way on countless non-COVID-related demands.”

McConnell’s measure also would provide about $100 billion for school districts, as well as funds to back testing and tracing operations, vaccine distribution efforts and the White House’s emergency response plan.

“It is long past time for the two parties to agree where we can and get more money out the door,” the leader added.

McConnell’s announcement came as Pelosi issued a deadline for this week on negotiations with White House officials. The two sides said they have held multiple discussions on a way forward.

As she said recently, “We are hoping to find common ground. I am optimistic that we can reach agreement before the election. To that end, we are writing [legislative] language as we negotiate the priorities, so that we are fully prepared to move forward once we reach agreement.”

HEROES Act update by Transport Topics on Scribd

The House this month gave party-line approval to a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 aid package — a smaller version of the House-passed Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The Senate did not vote on the House-passed plan.

The Week Ahead

Oct. 19-28: American Trucking Associations hosts the virtual 2020 Management Conference & Exhibition.

Oct. 21, 10 a.m.: The Senate Commerce Committee examines supply chain operations across the freight rail network during the COVID-19-era. Witnesses will include National Grain and Feed Association CEO Randy Gordon and Association of American Railroads CEO Ian Jefferies. Watch the hearing here.

Oct. 22, 9 p.m.: President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden meet for a debate.

Freight Corridor

The time is now for a comprehensive infrastructure investment program, analysts insist.

Buzz

There’s an expectation COVID-19 relief talks will continue through the end of the month, sources tell Transport Topics.

Favorite Video

POTUS offers a message of hope.

Favorite Tweet

Facebook caught in the middle.

The Last Word

Managing, conserving, and regenerating our nation’s forests is necessary to maintaining a healthy environment and a robust economy.

Mary Neumayr, chairwoman of the Council on Environmental Quality, on Oct. 16

Mary Neumayr

We publish weekly when Congress is in session. E-mail emulero@ttnews.com with tips. Follow us @eugenemulero and @transporttopics.

Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing: