Blunt insists Senate-House not far off in competing stimulus packages

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Sen. Roy Blunt speaks with reporters as Mosaic Life Care DEO, Dr. Mark Laney, looks on/Photo by Brent Martin

By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

United States Senator Roy Blunt is optimistic a compromise can
be reached this week on another economic stimulus package in the battle against
COVID-19 and its impact on the economy.

Blunt, a Republican involved in the negotiations, insists
Senate Republicans and House Democrats are not that far off, even if the Senate
approved a $1 trillion package to counter the House $3 trillion measure.

“We’re never going to outspend Democrats in the House,” Blunt tells
reporters during a weekend stop in St. Joseph. “They put $7 ½ billion for child
care subsidies, I put $15 (billion), they say, maybe we need $40 (billion).
Now, this is the number they thought should be $7 ½ billion 90 days ago. So,
part of this is just politics. It’s election year politics. We’re 90 days from
a presidential election.”

Blunt, after a visit to Mosaic Life Care, tells reporters
there are three sticking points:  how
much federal unemployment assistance should be allocated, whether state and
local governments should be provided assistance, and whether COVID-19 liability
protection should be extended for businesses and groups.

An additional $600 weekly federal unemployment check ended at
the end of July. House Democrats included nearly $1 billion of aid to state and
local governments, the Senate did not. Senate Republicans included liability
protections to businesses and groups which reopened during this coronavirus
pandemic, the House did not.

Both and Senate and House include another round of $1,200 stimulus checks.

Some deadline pressure is growing for negotiators. The Senate
is scheduled to leave Washington, D.C. after Friday for its annual August
recess.

Blunt doesn’t see that as a problem though, saying
negotiations over such proposals normally come together in a 72-hour period.

“You just need to decide when that 72 hours is so you can do whatever’s
necessary to finally bring these bills together,” Blunt says. “They’re different
in money, but they’re not different in much else.”

Blunt acknowledges many of his fellow Senate Republicans question
the need for the bill and he says if one is to pass, it will need bipartisan
support.

“So, this will be done by some number of Republicans and enough
Democrats to get to 60 in the Senate,” according to Blunt.

Blunt says though Senate Republicans backed the last $1
trillion-plus package, he expects some to vote against this latest round of
relief.

“Well, I think Senate Republicans are probably reverting back
to a normal pattern where some of my Republican colleagues never vote for
anything that spends money,” Blunt says. “That’s actually a workable strategy
as long as somebody else will vote for what spends money.”