US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters following a closed Senate Republican political lunch meeting with US President Donald Trump to discuss the coronavirus disease response (COVID-19) on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 19, 2020.
Yuri Gripas | Reuters
Congress will “probably”
The Kentucky Republican said a measure to lift the US economy would have a narrower reach than $ 3 trillion that House Democrats approved earlier this month. He said that states’ progress in restarting their economies in the coming weeks will help inform what Congress is doing. McConnell noted that “we need to make sure we have unemployment insurance properly funded for as long as we need”, as tens of millions of people lose paychecks.
“So over the next few weeks we will decide if there is another bill,” he told reporters in his home state on Tuesday.
Congress has adopted four legislative proposals to respond to the crisis, and recently approved a plan to fill a small business program about a month ago. Many lawmakers and Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell have argued that Washington should take more steps to support the economy as unemployment stood at 14.7% in April and the country’s pockets remain under public health restrictions.
While Democrats have been pushing for more legislation for weeks, the GOP has begun to heat another round of stimulus in recent days. President Donald Trump and his top adviser signaled their support for another rescue proposal last week. The president mentioned the possibility of a second direct payment to individuals – which McConnell did not address Tuesday.
The Senate Republican leader again insisted that he should push for accountability for doctors and businesses when the economy reopened. Democrats have been worried about creating shields from lawsuits.
McConnell also said he would like further relief for state and local authorities to adjust only to increased spending and revenue lost due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Democrats included nearly a trillion $ 1,000 dollars for states and municipalities with cash in their bills as leaders from both parties are asking for more money.
It is unclear how long and at what level McConnell would like to fund federal unemployment insurance benefits. Last week, the senator said the next congressional proposal would not extend $ 600 a week that the US government has added to what recipients normally receive from states. The extra federal benefit will expire at the end of July.
The democratic bill passed earlier this month would extend it through January.
The House is aiming to approve a limited bill this week to give small businesses more flexibility in how they can spend state aid money while receiving forgiven loans.
Most of the country has at least begun the process of reopening companies after coronavirus lock-up. Republicans have generally supported restarting the economy earlier than Democrats have done.
Covid-19 cases in the United States now number more than 1.66 million, while the disease has killed more than 98,000 people, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
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