McConnell: Discussions underway on additional coronavirus bills

McConnell: Discussions underway on additional coronavirus bills
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAn August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done After police rip Trump for Jan. 6, McCarthy again blames Pelosi The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands 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 JohnsonGrassley pressured to run as Democrats set sights on Iowa Sunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe Democrats question GOP shift on vaccines 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 RubioBreak glass in case of emergency — but not for climate change Democrats join GOP in pressuring Biden over China, virus origins Senators introduce bipartisan bill to expand foreign aid partnerships 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 GrassleyThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators 'Blue wave' Democrats eye comebacks after losing reelection MORE (R-Iowa), Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderAuthorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate The Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain MORE (R-Tenn.), Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenate passes .1 billion Capitol security bill Democrats ramp up pressure for infrastructure deal amid time crunch Overnight Defense: Senators reach billion deal on emergency Capitol security bill | House panel looks to help military sexual assault survivors | US increases airstrikes to help Afghan forces fight Taliban MORE (R-Ala.), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators The 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill MORE (R-Idaho), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTop Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure Bill would honor Ginsburg, O'Connor with statues at Capitol The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands MORE (R-Maine) and Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerHere's evidence the Senate confirmation process is broken Commerce office used racial profiling operating as 'rogue' police force: Senate report Rand Paul introducing measure to repeal public transportation mask mandates MORE (R-Miss.), who chair the Finance, Health, Appropriations, Banking, Aging and Commerce committees, respectively.