McConnell: Discussions underway on additional coronavirus bills

McConnell: Discussions underway on additional coronavirus bills
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Trump signs T coronavirus relief package Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing 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 JohnsonGOP seeks up to 0 billion to maximize financial help to airlines, other impacted industries Dr. Rand Paul's prescription for combating the coronavirus crisis Senate passes House's coronavirus aid bill, sending it to Trump 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 RubioLessons from the front line — Florida's fight with sea level rise SNAP, airlines among final hurdles to coronavirus stimulus deal Senior State Department official headed to Peru to bring home stranded Americans, Rubio says 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 GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyLobbying blitz yields wins for airlines, corporations, banks, unions Chances for drug pricing, surprise billing action fade until November Stimulus talks to miss McConnell's Monday deadline MORE (R-Iowa), Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderSticking points force stimulus package talks to spill into Sunday GOP drafting stimulus package without deal with Democrats Senate coronavirus stimulus talks spill into Saturday MORE (R-Tenn.), Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyCoronavirus bill includes more than billion in SNAP funding White House billion emergency request balloons to 2 billion in Senate coronavirus stimulus talks Five sticking points to a T coronavirus deal MORE (R-Ala.), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoLobbying blitz yields wins for airlines, corporations, banks, unions Stimulus empowers Treasury to rescue airlines with billion in direct assistance White House, Senate reach deal on trillion stimulus package MORE (R-Idaho), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCampaigns pivot toward health awareness as races sidelined by coronavirus Senate eyes quick exit after vote on coronavirus stimulus package The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Trump, Dems close in on deal MORE (R-Maine) and Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerStimulus empowers Treasury to rescue airlines with billion in direct assistance White House, Senate reach deal on trillion stimulus package McConnell sets Friday night deadline for bipartisan deal on stimulus MORE (R-Miss.), who chair the Finance, Health, Appropriations, Banking, Aging and Commerce committees, respectively.