McConnell says Senate will pass House coronavirus bill without changes

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok Ernst: Renaming Confederate bases is the 'right thing to do' despite 'heck' from GOP Advocacy groups pressure Senate to reconvene and boost election funding MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday the upper chamber will pass the House's second coronavirus funding package without changes.

The decision comes despite some vocal GOP opposition to the measure over concerns about its impact on small businesses.

"With regard to the bill that came over from the House, there was some discussion about whether to amendment that with a bigger proposal, because we all know a bigger proposal is necessary. But I've decided we're going to go on and vote as soon as the Senate can get permission to vote on the bill that came over from the House, send it down to the president for signature," McConnell told reporters.

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Asked about pushback from within his caucus, he added, “My counsel to them is to gag and vote for it anyway." 

The House bill provides up to 10 days of paid leave for some workers and bolsters unemployment insurance.

But the paid leave provision sparked pushback among GOP senators who worried it would put a burden on small businesses. The House bill would cap the paid leave at companies with 500 employees. It would also allow businesses with fewer than 50 employees to apply for a waiver. 

Republicans had been discussing potentially trying to change the House bill, including adding in a "phase three" bill, which is expected to focus on impacted businesses, workers and industries. 

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP senators voice confidence over uphill Senate battle Senate GOP hedges on attending Trump's convention amid coronavirus uptick Finger-pointing, gridlock spark frustration in Senate MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, stressed that no final decision had been made on legislative strategy, underscoring the fluidity of negotiations between lawmakers and the White House.

“I think what we’re looking at is sort of the House-passed version as sort of the baseline and then building from that,” Thune told reporters before the Republican caucus lunch. 

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“There’s definitely going to have to be a round three of this. ... How it gets across the floor and back to the House remains to be seen. It could move separately but maybe there’s a way it could be combined,” Thune added.

The Senate could vote as soon as Tuesday, though McConnell indicated the timeline is still in flux.

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulKoch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads How conservative conspiracy theories are deepening America's political divide Gianforte halts in-person campaigning after wife, running mate attend event with Guilfoyle MORE (R-Ky.) wants an amendment vote before the Senate passes the House package to pay for the estimated $104 billion in spending.

“If they allow us an amendment, we’ll allow them to do it more quickly,” he said.

McConnell indicated that he will give Paul a vote on his amendment, similar to how the chamber handled the first $8.3 billion bill that passed earlier this month. At the time senators tabled the amendment, effectively pigeonholing his proposal. 

--Updated at 3:56 p.m.