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Senate to vote on COVID-19 aid as soon as this week: McConnell

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(C) Reuters. Senate Majority Leader McConnell walks to his office in the U.S. Capitol in Washington

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican leaders of the U.S. Senate will introduce a proposal for additional coronavirus relief on Tuesday and could schedule a vote as soon as this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

He said the proposal – expected to have a far smaller scope than a bill passed in the Democratic-led House of Representatives – would focus 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.

Republicans and Democrats have been jockeying for months over the next phase of coronavirus aid, after passing more than $3 trillion this year. Nearly 190,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the United States.

But the Republican-led Senate left town last month without taking up another $3 trillion aid package the House passed in May, or an alternative.

The two parties are sharply divided, but there are disputes also among President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans.

Many of the Senate’s 53 Republicans are on record opposing any additional federal coronavirus relief, although some want to pass a so-called “skinny” bill planned by McConnell, far smaller than the House bill.

Passing a bill could provide political cover for Republicans in Congress facing tough re-election fights on Nov. 3.

Earlier, Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said he was hopeful there would be another round of federal COVID-19 stimulus funding before Election Day, but signaled no breakthrough in talks with Democrats.

Meadows told Fox Business Network he hoped legislation put forward by Senate Republicans would provide a basis for a future agreement and that negotiations were ongoing.

Senate to vote on COVID-19 aid as soon as this week: McConnell

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