Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday that Congress will decide whether to approve a “final” rescue package for the coronavirus crisis in the coming weeks.
“We are carefully analyzing a fourth and final bill,” said the Republican from his home state of Kentucky. “It could be anticipated that the decision on whether to move forward will be made in about a month. And it will be closely designed, designed to help us where we are in a month, not where we were three months ago. “
Congress has been divided on how to deal with the economic and medical crises created by the pandemic. As tens of millions of people apply for unemployment insurance and state and local governments watch budget deficits, House Democrats this month approved a $ 3 billion stimulus bill. Meanwhile, McConnell has emphasized that he wants to see the reopening situation unfold in different states of the country before passing more legislation.
Democrats, who have pushed for measures including another round of direct payments of up to $ 1,200 and an extension of a federal unemployment benefit, have argued that the need for people to cover vital expenses requires more immediate action.
“Do we need to take a break? Tell that to the virus, “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday.” Is the virus taking a break? Is hunger pausing in the United States?
In a separate letter to colleagues on Friday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, urged the Senate to take further steps to address the pandemic when they return next week. He called on Republicans to “join the Democrats at the negotiating table, immediately.”
Schumer also said that Senate Democrats would try to pass a House-approved bill that aims to give small business owners more flexibility in how they spend borrowed money as part of an aid program. of coronavirus.
McConnell detailed conditions for the next coronavirus package. He said it “will be written in the Senate” and “supported by” the Trump administration, with input from Democrats, whose support will even require a Republican-majority Senate.
He again emphasized that he will not support a plan that does not include a measure to protect doctors and businesses from certain lawsuits as the economy reopens. Democrats have opposed such extensive liability protections.
McConnell also said that Congress “would help those who are still unemployed.” But he criticized the federal benefit of $ 600 per week that will expire after July, which in some cases has led to beneficiaries receiving more money than they would receive from their previous paychecks.
The Republican Senate leader, who has opposed efforts to send more aid to states and municipalities, said he would “take a look” to give them more funding. He added, “Additional assistance may be needed for small businesses, for healthcare.”
McConnell’s comments and the House schedule released Friday afternoon indicate that another bailout bill is unlikely to become law for a few weeks. A summer calendar sent by the office of House of Representatives Majority Leader Steny Hoyer does not plan a voting session until June 30, although the Maryland Democrat has signaled that representatives could return to Washington. earlier if the Senate passes the coronavirus-related legislation.
“I hope, then, that the House is in session sometime in June, once the Senate acts, for further action by the Floor on this critical issue,” he wrote in a letter to the representatives, noting that he would give them a warning. 72 hours before he returns to the Capitol.
This week, the United States topped 100,000 deaths from the pandemic. More than 40 million people have filed unemployment insurance claims during the crisis, although the number of people who received benefits for at least two weeks in a row fell to around 21 million.
This story was originally written in English by Jacob Pramuk for our sister station CNBC.com