McConnell in talks with Mnuchin on next phase of coronavirus relief

McConnell in talks with Mnuchin on next phase of coronavirus relief
© Bonnie Cash

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 Monday that he is in discussions with Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn 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' US Chamber asks Treasury to clear up 'serious concerns' about payroll tax deferral Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate MORE on the next phase of coronavirus relief and predicted the Senate will begin working on the legislation more widely next week.

McConnell said he’s been working closely with Mnuchin over the last few weeks and will begin sharing the emerging work product with the rest of the Senate GOP conference after colleagues return to Washington on July 20.

“I’m predicting we will have one more rescue package, which we’ll begin to debate and discuss next week,” McConnell said during an appearance at Baptist Health Hospital in Corbin, Ky.

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“We’ve been working on it in my office and I’ve been talking with Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, who's been the point person for the administration,” he said. “We’ve been working on this for several weeks."

“When my members come back next week, we’ll start socializing it with them,” he added. 

McConnell said Republicans would start negotiating with Democrats and “start the legislative process.”

“I think you could anticipate this coming to a head sometime within the next three weeks, beginning next week,” he added. 

The GOP leader said the legislation will focus on funding the reopening of schools; protecting doctors, hospitals, first responders, schools and businesses from litigation; and protecting and creating jobs.

He renewed his vow the next round of relief legislation must have “liability protection for everyone related to the coronavirus.”

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“We’re not trying to rewrite the state tort laws, this is about the coronavirus only,” he said.

He said the liability shield would be retroactive to December 2019 and extend to 2024. 

At the same time, McConnell acknowledged the concerns of GOP colleagues who are worried about the mounting deficit. 

“It does raise a good deal of concern because we now have a debt, a cumulative debt, the size of our economy for the first time since World War II,” he said. “Believe me, we would not have done that under any other circumstances.” 

McConnell, who is up for reelection, emphasized his role in shaping the bill to maximize benefit for Kentucky, noting the CARES Act originated in his office in March.

He pointed out the CARES Act pumped $12 billion into Kentucky, a portion of it directed at hospitals and health care providers, including just under $2 billion to state and local governments in the commonwealth.

Kentucky health care providers received $1.2 billion, and Baptist Health Hospitals in Kentucky received $875 million to expand telehealth.

He noted that about $5 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans went to help Kentucky small businesses.

“If you look at the cumulative total of states our size, we got the second largest amount of money out of the CARES Act of any in America based on the size of our state,” he said.