GOP senator predicts a 'less than 50 percent chance of passing another bill'

GOP senator predicts a 'less than 50 percent chance of passing another bill'
© Bonnie Cash

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) on Tuesday expressed doubts that Congress will be able to pass another coronavirus relief package as he pressed Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Former Rep. Delaney says Trump is spewing venom when he should be leading; Protests roil the nation as fears of new virus outbreaks grow GOP lawmakers plan measure to force Americans to divest from firms linked to Chinese military: report Hillicon Valley: Twitter flags Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence' | Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged sanctions violations | Senators urge FTC to investigate TikTok child privacy issues MORE to support allowing states to cover revenue shortfalls with funds that Congress has already appropriated.

"We may not be able to pass another bill. I think it's less than 50 percent chance of passing another bill," Kennedy said during a Senate Banking Committee hearing. "Why would we not allow states, without appropriating any new money, to use that money to address revenue shortfalls that you and the chairman of the Fed both agree are going to exist and be substantial?" 

Kennedy said that it appears to him that the "game plan" will be for Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRosenstein steps back into GOP crosshairs Biden to deliver remarks in Philadelphia Tuesday on nationwide protests Senate Republicans urge Trump to tone down rhetoric on protests MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerPelosi, Schumer say treatment of protesters outside White House 'dishonors every value that faith teaches us' Is the 'endless frontier' at an end? Judd Gregg: Biden — a path to the presidency, or not MORE (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump praises 'domination' of DC protesters Pelosi, Schumer say treatment of protesters outside White House 'dishonors every value that faith teaches us' Democrats call for Congress to take action following death of George Floyd MORE (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyTop GOP lawmakers invite Blue Dogs to meet with China Task Force Top GOP lawmakers invite Blue Dogs to meet with China Task Force over coronavirus probe Key races to watch in Tuesday's primaries MORE (R-Calif.) to negotiate a deal on a subsequent package and then present it to the rank-and-file members of Congress.

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In the past, lawmakers not involved in the discussions would "moan and groan" but then go along with congressional leaders. However, Kennedy said that he's "not sure that's going to work this time."

"I think that whatever deal y'all come up with is going to receive serious pushback from both Republicans and Democrats in both houses for a variety of reasons," he said. "I could, of course, be wrong, but I doubt it." 

Mnuchin replied to Kennedy by saying that he has "no intention of doing what you've just described," and said that there were "at least 20 or 30 senators," both Republicans and Democrats, who "participated in the detailed analysis of the last bill." 

Kennedy said that there are more House members than there are senators. He said he wasn't trying to be critical, but the top-down approach is "the way it works around here and we all know it." 

Kennedy has introduced legislation to allow state and local governments to use the $150 billion of funding provided for them in the coronavirus relief package President TrumpDonald John TrumpSessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines Priest among those police cleared from St. John's Church patio for Trump visit Trump criticizes CNN on split-screen audio of Rose Garden address, protesters clashing with police MORE signed in late March for operating expenses unrelated to the coronavirus. He and other GOP senators discussed the bill with Trump and Mnuchin in a meeting last week.

Mnuchin said he appreciates Kennedy's bill, adding that "if there's bipartisan support for that, I'm sure that the president and I would look forward to that."