McConnell: Talking about fifth coronavirus bill ‘in the next month or so’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that there would “likely” be a fifth coronavirus relief bill “in the next month or so.”

“Many of you are asking, what next? I think there’s likely to be another bill. It will not be the $3 trillion bill the House passed the other day. But there’s still a likelihood that more will be needed,” McConnell said during an event at a hospital in Louisville, Ky.

“In the next month or so we’ll be talking about possibly another bill,” McConnell added about “what may lay ahead” for Congress’s response to the coronavirus, which has sparked steep economic damage since March. 

McConnell’s comments come as the Senate is in the middle of a one-week Memorial Day break. 

Senators left Washington on Thursday without taking up additional coronavirus legislation as Senate Republicans remain in a wait-and-see mode as they review the roughly $2.8 trillion already spent by Congress. 

McConnell has offered few predictions of what the latest coronavirus bill might look like, aside from saying that it must include liability protection for employers as the business community warns about a potential spike in lawsuits. 

“It ought to be very carefully targeted to correct the mistakes that we certainly made in passing a multitrillion-dollar bill in one week. …There are some other needs that need to be met,” McConnell said on Tuesday about potential additional legislation. 

The House previously passed a wide-ranging coronavirus bill earlier this month that included, among other provisions, more aid for state and local governments, an extension of beefed up unemployment insurance and a second round of direct stimulus checks. 

But Republicans have declared the bill dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled Senate. 

“We may need, as I said, one more plug here at the federal level to help us get through this period, but it will be very carefully crafted. It won’t be [a] $3 trillion left-wing wish list,” McConnell said on Tuesday. 

“We’re not going to be doing a $3 trillion bill. That won’t happen. … That isn’t going to happen,” he added. 

There are deep divisions within the Senate Republican Conference on the fifth bill, including on when it needs to be passed, key policy disputes and if another bill is needed at all. 

Some GOP senators have pointed to the start of the August recess as a more likely time frame for a new bill. 

McConnell has been careful not to publicly commit to a timeline but has hinted both publicly and privately that the Senate’s “pause” before the next coronavirus bill could soon be coming to an end. 

“I think there’s a high likelihood that we’ll do another rescue package. … We’re not quite ready to intelligently lay down the next step, but it’s not too far off,” McConnell said during an interview with Fox News late last week. 

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