McConnell: Discussions underway on additional coronavirus bills
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (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.
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 Johnson (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 Rubio (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 Grassley (R-Iowa), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), who chair the Finance, Health, Appropriations, Banking, Aging and Commerce committees, respectively.