McConnell says he wants coronavirus deal by end of year


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that he wants a deal on a fifth coronavirus relief bill by the end of the year as coronavirus cases are spiking across the country.

McConnell, speaking to reporters in Kentucky, outlined a busy end-of-year agenda that will include attempts to get another stimulus deal, a large spending deal by the Dec. 11 deadline to fund the government and more judges confirmed — a top priority for the GOP leader.

“We need another rescue package. The Senate goes back in session next Monday. … I think we need to do it and I think we need to do it before the end of the year,” McConnell said when asked about another coronavirus relief deal.

“I think that’s job one when we get back,” McConnell said.

The GOP leader’s comments came the morning after Election Day, with President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden locked in a tight battle for the White House, while Republicans remained optimistic about holding onto their Senate majority.

McConnell previously told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, who asked about a 2021 legislative agenda if the GOP kept control of the Senate, that he believed a coronavirus deal is “something we’ll need to do right at the beginning of the year.”

Negotiations on another relief bill, largely led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, have failed to get an agreement amid steep political and policy differences including the price tag, liability protections from coronavirus-related lawsuits and more help for state and local governments.

McConnell didn’t rule out that more state and local aid could end up being in a final agreement, but signaled that Republicans still believe a smaller package is the way to go.

Senate Republicans have largely lined up behind an approximately $500 billion package, significantly smaller than the roughly $2 trillion price tag being discussed by the White House and congressional Democrats.

“I think now that the election is over, the need is there and we need to sit down and work this out. State and local could end up being a part of it,” McConnell said.

In addition to a stimulus deal, McConnell said he and Pelosi both want a full-year spending deal for the 12 government funding bills instead of a short-term continuing resolution (CR).

“The Speaker and I agree that we ought to do an omnibus appropriations bill and do it in December, no matter who wins the election. It’s a basic function of government that we haven’t handled very well in recent years,” McConnell said.

Hanging over an end-of-year lame-duck session is the uncertainty about which party will control the Senate and hold the White House next year.

Republicans are feeling good about their chances of defying political predictions and holding onto the chamber, though five states still remain uncalled as of early Wednesday afternoon and a sixth, the Georgia special election, is going to a runoff.

Lawmakers have stopped short of making predictions about what can get done in the lame duck, arguing who wins the White House will be a factor as well as whether Trump is willing to cut deals if he loses.

If Biden wins the White House, Democrats could view a CR as more advantageous than locking in a fiscal 2021 spending deal under Trump.

“We don’t know for sure all the outcomes but hopefully we will by next week when we go back in session and we need to sit down and talk to each other,” McConnell said Wednesday. “I’m confident we will no matter who ends up running the government.”

Tags coronavirus relief aid coronavirus stimulus bill Donald Trump Joe Biden Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Steven Mnuchin
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