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Senate Republicans are starting to quietly draft pieces of their next coronavirus relief package. 

Republicans aren't expected to begin formally negotiating the fifth bill — or even make an official decision about if they need another relief package — until they return from a two-week break on July 20.

 

But GOP senators signaled on Tuesday that they are starting to brainstorm, and in some cases craft, pieces of what will eventually go into their initial offer, with Republicans expected to get an agreement amongst themselves before negotiating with Democrats. 

Republicans crafted a similar process in March when the $2.2 trillion relief bill was eventually approved by the House and Senate. The House, where Democrats hold the majority, has already approved a new $3 trillion relief bill. 

“I’ve already asked my appropriating subcommittee that does the health and education and labor appropriating to begin to put a package together that will ensure that we have more testing, that we continue to work on therapeutics, and we have the money we need to move forward with the vaccine,” said Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGridlock mires chances of police reform deal Black female celebrities, mothers of victims push Senate to pass mail-in voting legislation Police reform in limbo after Senate setback MORE (R-Mo.).

Congress included $25 billion for testing in an “interim” relief bill passed in late April, but senators want to ramp up the number of tests per day, and expand the testing pool, as they country heads toward the fall, with schools still debating whether or not to reconvene classes in person. 

In addition to the component on testing, Republicans are reconvening a working group on small business relief. 

The federal government is set to stop accepting new applications for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees, at the end of Tuesday, raising questions for lawmakers about what to do with the approximately $130 billion left in the program. 

Democrats will try to pass legislation on Tuesday night that would extend the application window into early August, but Republicans are expected to block that bill. 

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police The Memo: GOP cringes at new Trump race controversy MORE (R-Fla.), who helped spearhead the creation of the PPP, said he wants to use the money leftover to help structure a second round of small business aid. 

“My preference is that we hold on to the $130 billion …[and], using that to fund a second round of assistance to small businesses. Obviously we'll have to be more targeted at truly small businesses,” Rubio told reporters on Tuesday. 

“In addition to that, I'm also developing a program to provide financing for businesses in under served communities or opportunity zones and other zip codes that would fall in that category,” Rubio added. 

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHillicon Valley: Livestreaming service Twitch suspends Trump account | Reddit updates hate speech policy, bans subreddits including The_Donald | India bans TikTok Senators move to boost state and local cybersecurity as part of annual defense bill Bipartisan Senate group offers bill to strengthen watchdog law after Trump firings MORE (R-Ohio) said members of the Senate Finance Committee were going to meet this week as part of their talks about the next coronavirus package. 

“No decisions have been made, I can tell you that. ... We're still meeting and talking. We have a Finance Committee discussion, I think it's tomorrow, on ideas,” Portman said. 

The prospects for another coronavirus package have been in limbo for weeks after Republicans hit “pause,” saying they wanted to assess how the nearly $3 trillion already appropriated by Congress was being spent and weigh potential changes. 

The House passed a nearly $3 trillion package in mid-May but that bill has been declared “dead on arrival” in the GOP-controlled Senate. 

Instead, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Governors rethink opening bars, restaurants amid spike in COVID-19 cases | Spiking cases threaten fragile economic recovery | Supreme Court rules consumer bureau director can be fired at will Overnight Health Care: Supreme Court strikes down Louisiana abortion law | Governors rethink opening bars, restaurants amid COVID-19 spike | WHO director warns pandemic 'speeding up' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: White House threatens veto on Democrats' .5 trillion infrastructure plan | Supreme Court won't hear border wall challenge | Witnesses describe 'excessive force' used by law enforcement in Lafayette Square MORE (R-Ky.) has pointed to the work period after the July 4 recess as when the chamber would potentially act on the next bill. The Senate is set to return to Washington, D.C. on July 20 and leave by August 7, a schedule McConnell indicated on Tuesday he does not anticipate changing. 

“So, I think the time to focus on this, as I said three months ago and as others have said today, is that period in July, which also I think dovetails nicely with the perfect time to take an assessment of the economy and the progress we're making on the healthcare front,” McConnell told reporters. 

Tags Roy Blunt Mitch McConnell Rob Portman Marco Rubio Coronavirus COVID-19

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NCAA Considering Starting The College Basketball Season In October Because Of The Coronavirus Pandemic

The NCAA is reportedly open to moving up the starting date for college basketball.

At the moment, college sports are completely engulfed by chaos because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and people are scrambling for answers. One of the scenarios to protect college basketball involves moving up the starting date. (RELATED: David Hookstead Is The True King In The North When It Comes To College Football)

 

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A post shared by Wisconsin Basketball (@badgermbb) on Jun 18, 2020 at 9:49am PDT

NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt told Sports Illustrated that they’re looking at potentially opening the basketball season Oct. 27 instead of in November.

Gavitt added that it’s “almost a certainty” that some games scheduled between Thanksgiving and the start of second semesters in January will end up being canceled.

Bumping up the timeline would add some flexibility to the schedule.

 

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A post shared by Wisconsin Basketball (@badgermbb) on Jun 16, 2020 at 4:19pm PDT

Much like with college football, we need some serious flexibility when it comes to the college basketball season.

It’s almost a guarantee that there will be changes made to the season because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

That’s just the reality of the situation. We just have to learn how to adapt to the crisis.

 

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A post shared by Wisconsin Basketball (@badgermbb) on Jun 9, 2020 at 10:24am PDT

Unlike with football, college basketball fans are used to games starting in November and going through March into early April with the Final Four.

So, if games get shifted, people will care a lot less. The season already happens over several different months. It starts in the fall and ends in the spring.

If there are changes there, people won’t lose it like they will if the football season gets bumped to the spring.

 

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A post shared by Wisconsin Basketball (@badgermbb) on May 13, 2020 at 6:32pm PDT

We’ll see what happens, but bumping up the timeline shouldn’t be an issue at all if it helps secure the season during the coronavirus pandemic.

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