McConnell: Discussions underway on additional coronavirus bills

McConnell: Discussions underway on additional coronavirus bills
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate Democrats say White House isn't budging in coronavirus relief stalemate 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 JohnsonHillicon Valley: Facebook removed over 22 million posts for hate speech in second quarter | Republicans introduce bill to defend universities against hackers targeting COVID-19 research | Facebook's Sandberg backs Harris as VP pick Republicans set sights on FBI chief as Russia probe investigations ramp up Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald 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 RubioDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Lincoln Project expands GOP target list, winning Trump ire China sanctioning Rubio, Cruz in retaliatory move over Hong Kong 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 GrassleyOn The Money: McConnell says it's time to restart coronavirus talks | New report finds majority of Americans support merger moratorium | Corporate bankruptcies on pace for 10-year high McConnell: Time to restart coronavirus talks GOP Finance chairman raises concerns about Trump push to make payroll-tax deferral permanent MORE (R-Iowa), Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline MORE (R-Tenn.), Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Wary GOP eyes Meadows shift from brick-thrower to dealmaker On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS MORE (R-Ala.), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Top GOP senator urges agencies to protect renters, banks amid coronavirus aid negotiations Chamber of Commerce, banking industry groups call on Senate to pass corporate diversity bill MORE (R-Idaho), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsProgressive Jewish group endorses Biden Poll: Gideon leads Collins by 8 points in Maine Senate race The Hill's 12:30 Report - Speculation over Biden's running mate announcement MORE (R-Maine) and Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump The Hill's Coronavirus Report: INOVIO R&D Chief Kate Broderick 'completely confident' world will develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine; GOP boxed in on virus negotiations Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers zero in on Twitter after massive hack | US, UK, Canada allege Russian hackers targeted COVID-19 vaccine researchers | Top EU court rules data transfer deal with the US is illegal MORE (R-Miss.), who chair the Finance, Health, Appropriations, Banking, Aging and Commerce committees, respectively.