Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday introduced Republican’s new slimmed-down coronavirus relief package, which no longer contains billions of dollars for defense spending including in an earlier version.

A vote on the $500 billion bill may take place this week, but it is unlikely to pass following strong opposition from Democrats who have called for at least $2 trillion in emergency spending with greater relief provisions.

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks on the Senate floor Sept. 23, 2019. (Screenshot: C-SPAN)

“Today, the Senate Republican majority is introducing a new targeted proposal, focused on some of the very most urgent healthcare, education, and economic issues. It does not contain every idea our party likes. I am confident Democrats will feel the same. Yet Republicans believe the many serious differences between our two parties should not stand in the way of agreeing where we can agree and making law that helps our nation,” McConnell said in a statement.

In July, McConnell introduced a $1 trillion package with $29 billion for defense, including $7 billion for new weapons procurement.

That version of the bill drew sharp partisan criticism for its inclusion of weapons spending on programs such as F-35s to Army AH-64 Apache helicopters (Defense Daily, July 28). 

“Now, after months of inaction, Republicans are finally realizing the damage their pause has done to the American economy and our nation’s health. As they scramble to make up for this historic mistake, Senate Republicans appear dead-set on another bill which doesn’t come close to addressing the problems and is headed nowhere. If anyone doubts McConnell’s true intent is anything but political, just look at the bill. This proposal is laden with poison pills Republicans know Democrats would never support,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a joint statement.