Senate

McConnell offering new coronavirus relief bill after talks with Mnuchin, Meadows

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday circulated a new coronavirus relief proposal that could garner support from the White House among Senate Republicans on Tuesday.

McConnell, during a weekly press conference on Tuesday, said he had been speaking with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about what President Trump could sign.

“I think we have a sense of what that is. … We’re going to send that out to all the offices and get some feedback to see how our members react,” McConnell said. 

“We don’t have time for messaging games. We don’t have time for lengthy negotiations,” McConnell added.

Congress is quickly running out of time to pass lame-duck legislation with the House poised to leave as soon as next week. Congress faces a Dec. 11 government funding deadline and McConnell said any coronavirus relief will ride on that.

McConnell previously twice offered a roughly $500 billion coronavirus relief bill that was rejected by Democrats.

McConnell outlined the bill during a GOP caucus call on Tuesday, but did not provide details during his press conference about if there are any substantive differences between that in the new bill. 

But the proposal, according to a copy of the outline obtained by The Hill, would provide protections against coronavirus-related lawsuits, extend unemployment insurance for roughly a month and provide another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) small business assistance. It would also provide more money for the Postal Service, schools, testing and vaccine distribution. 

McConnell’s decision to offer a new proposal comes as months of talks with the White House and Democratic leadership over a fifth coronavirus bill have failed to get results, despite cases climbing across the country.  

If Congress is going to pass additional relief, McConnell said he expected it would be folded into a must-pass government funding bill.  

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) have pointed to $2.2 trillion as their starting point. McConnell said the two Democratic leaders made him a new offer on coronavirus relief on Monday. A spokesman for Schumer didn’t immediately respond to a question about the offer. 

Pelosi, in a statement, said she had raised the prospects of another coronavirus bill with Mnuchin. 

“Secretary Mnuchin said he would be reviewing the proposal Leader Schumer and I made to Leader McConnell and Leader McCarthy last night and the bipartisan Senate proposal unveiled today.  Additional COVID relief is long overdue and must be passed in this lame duck session,” she said. 

A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers also introduced a $908 billion bill earlier Tuesday though they didn’t have buy in from leadership or the White House.

McConnell appeared to cold water on using that proposal as a starting point though. 

“We just don’t have time to waste time,” McConnell responded. 

Tags Charles Schumer Coronavirus coronavirus relief COVID-19 COVID-19 relief Donald Trump John Thune Mark Meadows Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi relief bill Roy Blunt Steven Mnuchin
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