Stimulus update: McConnell says new stimulus bill is priority when Senate returns

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that the top priority of the Senate when it reconvenes on Monday will be to craft and pass a stimulus bill, The Washington Post is reporting.

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McConnell, who was reelected to the Senate from Kentucky on Tuesday, said in a news conference that Americans need more help as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect American families and businesses.

“We need another rescue package. The Senate goes back into session next Monday. Hopefully, the partisan passions that prevented us from doing another rescue package will subside with the election,” McConnell said.

“And I think we need to do it and I think we need to do it before the end of the year,” he added.

McConnell did not go into specifics on the bill, only saying that “It’s a possibility we will do more for state and local governments.”

While the Republican Party faced a stiff challenge in the Senate in Tuesday’s elections, it appears the party will keep its majority in the chamber, and McConnell will keep his role as majority leader.

Both parties put forth plans for stimulus packages, but they could not come to an agreement on a price tag.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made an offer of more than $1.8 trillion for a coronavirus relief package in early October that would have included stimulus checks to more than 180 million Americans, and help for airlines and small businesses.

The offer came after on-and-off negotiations highlighted by President Donald Trump abruptly calling an end to the talks in the run-up to the election, only to say they were back on two days later. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., refused to go along with the plan, saying her terms have still not been met.

The negotiations between Pelosi and Mnuchin have been ongoing since September.

Democrats amended the HEROS package passed in April, bringing the cost to $2.2 trillion, down from $3.5 trillion. Republicans had upped the money in their HEALS Act plan from $1.1 trillion to a beefier plan that would total $1.6 trillion.

Last week, Pelosi sent Mnuchin a letter faulting Republicans for the failed talks.

“As the coronavirus surges and the stock market plummets, we are still awaiting the Trump Administration’s promised responses on multiple items of critical importance,” Pelosi wrote. “Your responses are critical for our negotiations to continue.”

McConnell acknowledged that both parties need to sit down and negotiate a deal to help Americans suffering from the fallout of the novel coronavirus whose spread triggered a pandemic in March.

“But I don’t get to make the final decision: we have to deal with the Democrats. And what I’m saying is, I think now that the election’s over the need is there and we need to sit down and work this out. And state and local could end up being a part of it. I’d like to see it done a little more skillfully than simply providing borrowed money for everyone regardless of their need.”

“We need to sit down and talk to each other like we did back in March and April and address the problem and I’m confident we will, no matter who ends up running the government, no matter who’s in the White House, no matter who’s — I think we know the Democrats are gonna run the House — no matter who runs the Senate, it’s time to overcome all that and get results,” McConnell said.

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