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Senate GOP Preparing Trimmed-Down Virus Aid Proposal After Negotiation Breakdown

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Senate Republican leaders are preparing a slimmed-down virus relief package of roughly $500 billion that will include extended payments for unemployed people and small businesses, a GOP senator said Tuesday.

The package will also include $10 billion for the Postal Service, according to one top GOP aide.

The agency has become the focus of a battle over whether it will have enough resources to handle an expected flood of mail-in ballots for this November’s elections.

Negotiations over a far larger relief bill are expected to resume after Labor Day between the White House and top congressional Democrats.

With Democrats demanding a wide-ranging measure, the trimmer package emerging from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top Republicans seems to be an effort to show voters what the GOP would favor enacting quickly.

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Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of the Senate Republican leadership, said the emerging legislation will provide $300 weekly in extra federal payments for unemployed people above the state payments that beneficiaries receive.

He said he believes the extra payments would run through 2020.

A massive relief bill approved earlier this year provided $600 extra per week, but those payments expired at the end of July.

Democrats want to continue the added $600 in payments, but Trump and congressional Republicans have pushed for less.

Would you support a $500 billion relief measure?

Blunt said the trimmed-down measure would also have money for schools and businesses.

A second GOP Senate aide said the new proposal includes $105 billion for education.

That aide said the plan also has $16 billion for virus testing and $29 billion for developing vaccines, manufacturing treatment and other initiatives aimed at conquering the coronavirus.

The bill does not include a renewal of the one-time direct payments of up to $1,200 for taxpayers and dependents that were part of early legislation.

The Democratic-led House approved a $3 trillion relief plan in May, while Senate Republicans offered a $1 trillion package.

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Negotiations between Democrats and the White House dissolved earlier this month.

The two GOP aides spoke on condition of anonymity.

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