U.S. Senate Republicans to propose $300 billion coronavirus aid bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Republican leaders on Tuesday will introduce an approximately $300 billion coronavirus aid bill, according to senior aides, which Democrats promptly dismissed as insufficient for meeting the needs created by the pandemic.

The bill would be augmented by some unspent funding from the CARES Act, which was enacted at the end of March, according to the aides who asked not to be identified.

Included in the bill is $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service, which is girding for a large number of mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 presidential and congressional elections as a result of people fearful of voting in person because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The $10 billion would turn a Postal Service loan in CARES to a grant if its cash reserve drops to $8 billion, according to a summary.

“Senate Republicans appear dead-set on another bill which doesn’t come close to addressing the problems and is headed nowhere,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

“This proposal is laden with poison pills Republicans know Democrats would never support,” they added.

In mid-May, the Democratic-controlled House approved a fifth coronavirus aid package totaling more than $3 trillion that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not brought up for a vote.

Last month, a series of negotiations between Democrats and the White House failed to produce a compromise, although Pelosi issued an offer that would have pared down that cost of her bill by around $1 trillion.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan, Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu and Patricia Zengerle; writing by Doina Chiacu and Patricia Zengerle; editing by Howard Goller and Aliistair Bell)

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