Senate GOP to include Postal Service funds in smaller coronavirus relief bill

Senate GOP to include Postal Service funds in smaller coronavirus relief bill

Senate Republicans are preparing to unveil a smaller coronavirus relief package as soon as Tuesday that is expected to include billions in new funds for the Postal Service. 

In addition to $10 billion in post office funding, the Republican proposal is expected to include liability protections, a $300-per-week federal unemployment benefit, another round of Paycheck Protection Program funding, and additional money for coronavirus testing and schools, according to aides. 

The bill is a pared-down version of the roughly $1 trillion package offered by Senate Republicans late last month, known as the HEALS Act, and comes as House Democrats are drafting their own stand-alone Postal Service bill. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCortez Masto touts mail-in voting in convention speech Senate GOP to include Postal Service funds in smaller coronavirus relief bill On The Money: McConnell not certain about fifth coronavirus package | States expected to roll out unemployment boost in late August | Navarro blasts ‘stupid’ Kodak execs MORE (R-Ky.) indicated while speaking in Kentucky earlier on Monday that Republicans and the administration were willing to direct roughly $10 billion in additional funding to the post office as part of coronavirus relief. 

“The Postal Service is going to be just fine. We’re going to make sure that the ability to function going into the election is not adversely affected,” McConnell told reporters in Kentucky. 

McConnell added that the $10 billion supported by the administration would be used “just to make sure the post office is on good firm footing going into the November election.”

Where the GOP proposal — the details of which were first reported by Politico — goes from here is unclear. But GOP senators have been quietly discussing tying coronavirus relief to a stop-gap government funding bill that they have to pass by Sept. 30 in order to prevent a shutdown roughly a month before the November election. 

Negotiations on a fifth, larger coronavirus bill have stalemated since earlier this month when talks between congressional Democrats, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinSenate GOP to include Postal Service funds in smaller coronavirus relief bill On The Money: McConnell not certain about fifth coronavirus package | States expected to roll out unemployment boost in late August | Navarro blasts ‘stupid’ Kodak execs States expected to roll out weekly 0 unemployment boost in late August MORE and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsSenate GOP to include Postal Service funds in smaller coronavirus relief bill Pelosi: Republicans’ ‘purpose is to frighten people from voting’ Democrats plan Saturday vote to prop up Postal Service MORE unraveled. 

The House is set to return on Saturday to vote on its bill related to the Postal Service. Though House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerSenate GOP to include Postal Service funds in smaller coronavirus relief bill Democrats plan Saturday vote to prop up Postal Service Pelosi weighing bringing House back from August recess early over USPS issues: reports MORE (D-Md.) indicated earlier Monday that the details of the Democratic bill were still being finalized, it is expected to include $25 billion in new funding, similar to what was included in a more than $3 trillion bill passed by the House in May. 

Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Midshipmen have COVID-19 | Worries about reopenings | Snowden pardon gets bad reviews from key lawmakers | Eyes turn to Democratic convention Democrats plan Saturday vote to prop up Postal Service House Oversight Committee calls for ‘urgent’ hearing with postmaster general MORE (D-N.Y.), are calling on McConnell to bring the Senate back into session early. The Senate isn’t currently scheduled to return to Washington, D.C., until Sept. 8. 

McConnell gave no indication while speaking in Kentucky on Monday that he intended to bring lawmakers back sooner. Instead, he defended the decision to let the Senate leave town without a coronavirus deal, noting that the House was already gone and that most senators are not directly involved in the negotiations.

And Meadows, speaking to reporters on Monday, appeared to shoot down the idea of doing a stand-alone Postal Service bill, calling it “unrealistic” and “unnecessary.” Any bill that passes the House largely along party lines is unlikely to be taken up in the GOP-controlled Senate.

The president is “willing to provide money for the Post office as long as it is included in some other skinny measure if we cannot agree to a larger deal,” he added.