Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY,
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Friday that Congress will decide whether to pass a “final” coronavirus relief package in the coming weeks.
“We’re looking closely at a fourth and final bill,”
The congress has divided how to deal with the economic and healthcare crises created by the pandemic next time. As tens of millions of people apply for unemployment insurance and state and local governments stare down budget deficits, House Democrats approved a sprawling $ 3 trillion stimulus bill this month. Meanwhile, McConnell has emphasized that he wants to see how efforts to open businesses in most of the country affect the economy and the labor market before he would adopt more legislation.
The Democrats, who have pushed for measures including another round of direct payments of up to $ 1,200 and an extension of an improved federal unemployment benefit, have argued that the need for people to cover important expenses requires more immediate action.
“Do we need a break? Tell it about the virus,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday. “Does the virus take a break? Does hunger in America take a break?”
In a separate letter to colleagues Friday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Called on the Senate to take more steps to address the pandemic when it comes back next week. He urged Republicans to “join the Democrats at the negotiating table, immediately.”
Schumer also said that Senate Democrats would try to approve a House-approved bill aimed at giving small business owners more flexibility in how they spend money borrowed as part of a coronavirus support program.
McConnell described a set of conditions for the next coronavirus package. He said it “will be written in the Senate” and “supported by” the Trump administration, with input from the Democrats – whose support it will need to pass even the latter held by the GOP.
He stressed again that he will not support a plan that does not include a measure to protect doctors and companies from certain lawsuits when the economy reopens. The Democrats have objected to protecting accountability.
McConnell also said Congress would “help those who are still unemployed.” But he criticized the $ 600 per week federal benefits that would expire after July, which in some cases has led to recipients receiving more money than they would have received from their previous paychecks.
The GOP leader, who has opposed efforts to send more relief to states and municipalities, said he would “take a look” at giving them more funding. He added that “there may be additional help needed for small businesses, for health care.”
McConnell’s comments and a house plan released Friday afternoon indicate that another relief proposal is unlikely to become law in weeks. A summer calendar sent by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office does not list votes until June 30, though the Maryland Democrat has noted that representatives could return to Washington until the Senate approves coronavirus-related legislation.
“I expect then that the House will be in session sometime in June, when the Senate acts, for further floor measures on this critical issue,” he wrote in a letter to representatives, noting that he would give them 72 hours notice before arriving back to the Capitol.
The United States this week surpassed 100,000 deaths from the pandemic. More than 40 million people have now submitted unemployment insurance during the crisis, although the number of people who collect benefits for at least two consecutive weeks fell to about 21 million.
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