Sept. 14 (UPI) -- The House returns to session in Washington, D.C., Monday and will have a small window of opportunity to pass a new COVID-19 stimulus bill before members recess until after the election.
Republicans and Democratic House members are far apart on an agreement. Senate Democrats last week blocked a Republican proposal, saying it doesn't provide nearly enough aid to the American people.
Democrats are working to produce a new relief measure for Americans affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has continued to push for a more expansive bill but has agreed to scale down the size of the package to about $2.2 trillion, while Republicans have supported a measure worth a little more than half that amount.
On Thursday, Senate Democrats blocked a $300 billion "skinny" bill that had been introduced by Republicans. Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer of New York said they weren't going to allow GOP lawmakers to "jam through" a stimulus bill that came up short on multiple fronts.
The House and Senate are scheduled to depart again for recess in October for the general election on Nov. 3.
"I wish I could tell you we were going to get another package, but it doesn't look that good right now," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who's running a close re-election contest in Kentucky, told reporters on Friday.
Efforts for a new round of aid for those impacted by the pandemic goes back to May, when the House passed a $3 trillion bill known as the Heroes Act seeking to provide a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks for all Americans, extend $600 weekly federal unemployment benefits, an expanded moratorium on evictions and funding for states as well as the U.S. Postal Service.
The measure was rejected in the Senate by opposition from Republicans and threats of a veto by President Donald Trump.
Republicans last week introduced their $300 billion Delivering Immediate Relief to America's Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act, which included a $300 weekly unemployment payment, another round of paycheck loans for small businesses, a loan to fund the U.S. Postal Service and money to reopen schools and colleges.
The GOP package, however, did not include stimulus payments to Americans or additional funding for state and local governments.
To date, just one stimulus payment was sent to most Americans after the CARES Act was passed in late March. The ongoing pandemic has put millions of Americans out of work and devastated the economy, which is in a coronavirus-fueled recession.
Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement the Republican bill introduced by McConnell is "empty" and woefully inadequate for Americans and businesses still struggling to pay their bills.
"McConnell continued to block the relief Americans need, holding a vote on a bill that refuses to crush the virus, abandons our heroes in state and local government, ignores families facing hunger and homelessness and contains poison pills that Democrats cannot support," they wrote.
Congress and the Trump administration have failed to reach an agreement on a new bill since provisions in the CARES Act -- like the enhanced unemployment payments -- expired in July. Trump signed a series of executive orders to extend federal unemployment and eviction protections.
Congress is also facing a potential government shutdown in the next two weeks. Funding for the federal government runs out after Sept. 30 and a new spending bill, or a continuing resolution, is needed to keep things running from Oct. 1.