McConnell: COVID-19 relief will be added to omnibus spending package
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that any deal reached on a coronavirus relief package will be added to a year-end omnibus spending bill, which means Senate Republicans will insist on limiting the size of a new coronavirus relief initiative.
“It will all likely come in one package,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday afternoon after holding a call with the Senate GOP conference.
McConnell noted that the time to pass a bill is extremely limited, as lawmakers will leave in a few weeks for the Christmas and New Year’s recess.
“We just don’t have time to waste time. We have a couple weeks left here,” he said. “Obviously, it does require bipartisan support to get out of Congress, but it requires a presidential signature.”
“I think the place to start is, are we actually making a law, or are we just making a point? And I think the way to make a law for sure is you know you have a presidential signature,” he said.
McConnell said it’s unacceptable to wait until 2021 to pass more federal relief to respond to surging COVID-19 infections around the country.
“I think the one thing we all agree on, as I’ve said, is waiting for next year is not an answer. We need a targeted relief bill, including things we can agree on,” he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a statement Tuesday afternoon said “additional COVID relief is long overdue and must be passed in this lame duck session.”
Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to Republicans on Monday evening laying out their latest coronavirus relief proposal.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Pelosi on Tuesday afternoon during a phone call that he would review it.
“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,” Pelosi said in a statement issued after the call.
Pelosi said Democrats would insist that any new relief proposal ensures the vaccine is “free and accessible to everyone.”
McConnell did not comment specifically on the $908 billion COVID-19 relief proposal unveiled earlier in the day by a bipartisan group of senators and House members.
He said senators are “working really hard to finish up the omnibus bills” and “given the challenges of moving things across the Senate floor speedily, that will be a vehicle to add on whatever coronavirus relief bill we know will get a presidential signature.”
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said earlier this month that he floated the idea of pairing the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending package with a coronavirus relief package during a phone call with Pelosi and that the top House Democrat appeared receptive.
Some Senate Republicans, however, have expressed concerns that combining the packages could produce sticker shock because the entire bill might approach $2 trillion.
The GOP leader announced at the top of his press conference that he has been in talks with Mnuchin, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to get a clear idea of what President Trump would support in a coronavirus relief deal and will begin sharing that with Senate Republican offices.
“We’re going to send that out to all the offices and get some feedback to see how our members react,” he said.