McConnell: Next coronavirus bill ‘not too far off’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) signaled Thursday that the Senate GOP’s decision to pause before starting work on another coronavirus relief bill could be nearing an end. 

“I think there’s a high likelihood that we’ll do another rescue package. … We’re not quite ready to intelligently lay down the next step, but it’s not too far off,” McConnell said during an interview with Fox News. 

“We need to work smart here, help the people who are desperately in need, try to save as many jobs as possible and begin to open up the states, which are decisions by the governors,” McConnell added. 

McConnell’s remarks come amid growing calls from within his caucus for the Senate to pass another coronavirus bill, which would be the fifth piece of legislation passed by Congress to address the fallout from the pandemic, by the end of the June. 

McConnell said during the Fox News interview that the next bill will not resemble a roughly $3 trillion bill that passed the House along party lines last week, and vowed that the White House and Senate Republicans will be on the same page. 

“There will be no space between the White House and Senate Republicans on the next bill,” McConnell said. 

Senators left Washington, D.C., on Thursday until June 1, meaning another bill is at least weeks off, with some senators suggesting that the deadline for passing the next bill is the start of the August recess. 

McConnell told House Republicans on Wednesday, and reiterated during Thursday’s interview, that the next bill would not continue an additional $600 per week in unemployment insurance.  

“It’s making it difficult to get people back to work. We do need to continue unemployment insurance … but to pay people more not to work, than to work, doesn’t encourage resuming your job,” he said. 

The House bill would extend the extra unemployment benefits through the end of the year. The House-passed bill also includes new funding for state and local governments — an idea that sharply divides Republicans. 

McConnell didn’t rule out passing new aid for state and local governments as part of the next package, but signaled that it was too soon to make a decision. 

“We’ve already sent $150 billion down to states already. … We may later do more,” McConnell said. “So we need to let that fully kick in, look at the impact of the states beginning to open up and then we can make an intelligent decision about the size and the appropriate package to put together for the next rescue package.” 

Tags Coronavirus Coronavirus relief package Mitch McConnell

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