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McConnell: Discussions underway on additional coronavirus bills

McConnell: Discussions underway on additional coronavirus bills
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellJudiciary Committee greenlights Garland's AG nomination This week: Senate takes up coronavirus relief after minimum wage setback Juan Williams: Hypocrisy runs riot in GOP MORE (R-Ky.) said on Sunday that discussions were already underway about additional coronavirus legislation beyond a second package that passed the House this weekend. 

McConnell, in a statement, said he had spoken to several GOP committee chairmen "about the next steps," including helping Americans with financial challenges, efforts to shore up the economy and small business and bolstering the health care system.

"It is clear that confronting this virus will take boldness, bipartisanship, and a comprehensive approach. ... Discussions are already underway on these key pillars. The Senate is eager to work with the Administration and the House to deliver the solutions our nation deserves," McConnell said in a statement.

McConnell's statement comes after the House passed a second coronavirus package over the weekend. 

The bill includes provisions that bolster unemployment insurance and guarantee that all Americans can get free diagnostic testing for the coronavirus. It also creates a national paid sick leave program through this year requiring employers with fewer than 500 workers as well as government employers to provide two weeks of paid sick leave.

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The exact timeline for the legislation in the Senate is unclear, as the chamber prepares to take an initial vote on an unrelated surveillance bill on Monday evening. 

"I know Senators on both sides are carefully reviewing the details and are eager to act swiftly to help American workers, families, and small businesses navigate this challenging time," McConnell added. 

But he also turned his attention to further coronavirus legislation, adding that Republicans "feel strongly that this bill must only be the beginning of Congress’s efforts to support our nation’s economy and stand with American families." 

The statement comes as McConnell is facing calls from within his own conference to make changes to the House bill. 

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonJuan Williams: Hypocrisy runs riot in GOP Graham: Trump will 'be helpful' to all Senate GOP incumbents Partisan headwinds threaten Capitol riot commission MORE (R-Wis.) signaled his opposition to the House bill over concerns that the paid sick leave provision would harm small businesses.

“I hope the Senate will approach this with a level head and pass a bill that does more good than harm — or, if it won’t, pass nothing at all. The president and states already have adequate authority and funding to address the current situation,” he said in a statement.

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP senators question Amazon on removal of book about 'transgender moment' CPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be Watch live: Day 2 at CPAC MORE (R-Fla.) added in a tweet that he was hoping to include additional small-business protections into the House-passed bill. Any changes by the Senate would bounce the bill back to the House, which is out of town for the week.

Johnson and Rubio were among the senators McConnell said he has spoken with about next steps. 

In addition, he added that he has also specifically spoken with Sens. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyJudiciary Committee greenlights Garland's AG nomination Grassley to vote against Tanden nomination Grassley says he'll decide this fall whether to run in 2022 MORE (R-Iowa), Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderCongress addressed surprise medical bills, but the issue is not resolved Trump renominates Judy Shelton in last-ditch bid to reshape Fed Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes MORE (R-Tenn.), Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyBlack Caucus members lobby Biden to tap Shalanda Young for OMB head On The Money: Senate panels postpone Tanden meetings in negative sign | Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers Passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy MORE (R-Ala.), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoBiden nominee previews post-Trump trade agenda Becerra says he wants to 'build on' ObamaCare when pressed on Medicare for All Yellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation MORE (R-Idaho), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate Democrats negotiating changes to coronavirus bill On The Money: Senators push for changes as chamber nears vote on .9T relief bill | Warren offers bill to create wealth tax GOP says Ron Klain pulling Biden strings MORE (R-Maine) and Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerPassage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Overnight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden's .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March 11 GOP senators slam Biden pick for health secretary: 'No meaningful experience' MORE (R-Miss.), who chair the Finance, Health, Appropriations, Banking, Aging and Commerce committees, respectively.