McConnell Changes His Tune On Stimulus: ‘We Need To Do It Before The End Of The Year’
In a departure from his previous stance, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said during a Wednesday press briefing that he believes that Congress should pass another federal coronavirus aid bill before the end of the year, in the lame-duck session.
The Majority Leader has for months been unwilling to support a package that is being negotiated between the White House and top Democrats led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in part because of its multi-trillion-dollar price tag and the inclusion of provisions he said were “simply unrelated” to the coronavirus crisis.
Late last month, he even warned the White House against making a deal on stimulus with Pelosi, implying that the agreement would jeopardize the Senate’s imminent confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court—a major priority for Republicans (Judge Barrett was confirmed just days before the election).
Over the last few weeks, Pelosi has repeatedly said she will continue to work with the White House on a bill regardless of the outcome of the election.
During the briefing on Wednesday, McConnell also said that there is a “possibility” that the federal government will provide more aid to state and local governments—that would be a huge departure from his previous opposition to that aspect of every Democratic proposal since March.
It would also be in opposition to the views of President Trump, who opposes sending more federal aid to states and localities because he considers it a “bailout” for poorly managed Democratic states and cities.
“As I’ve said repeatedly in the last few months, we need another rescue package,” McConnell said Wednesday. “Hopefully, the partisan passions that prevented us from doing another rescue package will subside with the election. . . . I think we need to do it before the end of the year.”
In the absence of a clear majority in the Senate following Tuesday’s election, McConnell said, “I don’t know whether I’m going to be the defensive coordinator or the offensive coordinator.”
Senate Republicans under McConnell’s leadership twice put forward pared-down rescue bills worth about $500 billion. That’s less than 25% of the size of Democrats’ most recent proposal, a $2.2 trillion version of the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act, which passed the Democratic-controlled House in May but made no inroads in the Republican-controlled Senate. Democrats in the Senate blocked the Republicans’ proposals both times.
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