Mitch McConnell Poured Cold Water on the $908 Billion Covid-19 Stimulus Plan, Arguing That Trump Would Veto It
McConnell's statement came as all sides called for bipartisanship - and many rallied round a more substantial deal, backed by top Democratic leaders and a bipartisan group of Senators.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said President Donald Trump's veto would hold up a $908 billion bipartisan stimulus bill from passing. In a statement circulated to media outlets on Wednesday, McConnell said that only his much smaller proposal reflects "what the President is ready to sign into law."
"At the risk of repeating something we all know, making law will require not just the Senate's approval, but also the signature of the President of the United States," McConnell's statement read.
The $908 billion bill, which was backed on Wednesday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, was crafted by moderate Republicans such as Mitt Romney of Utah along with Democratic Party figures.
With both sides of the table ostensibly calling for bipartisanship, it looks like the option most likely to get support across the board. But with McConnell's opposition, it is unclear if it will get the backing of those further to the right of the GOP.
The two proposals have distinct differences:
- The $908 billion stimulus package proposes support for small business loans, state and local government, education, unemployment insurance, healthcare and distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine.
- McConnell's package is said to omit federal unemployment benefits, but has provision for education, small business and pandemic-related liability protections for businesses.
Neither proposal includes another round of $1,200 checks, as were sent to Americans in the pandemic's first wave.
Trump urged Congress to agree a stimulus on Friday, but has otherwise stayed quiet on the details. Other than McConnell's statement suggesting the president would veto all but the most restrictive proposal, it is unclear what his position is.
The White House did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment on McConnell's statement.
Prior to the election, Trump signaled several times he'd be willing to advance generous stimulus measures — sometimes even suggesting he'd be willing to spend more than the $2.2 trillion proposal initially advanced by Democrats. In one of his few comments on the matter since the election, on November 14 he called on Congress to pass a "big and focused" bill on November. But with the end of his presidency looming, his influence over Senate Republicans may be waning, as Business Insider's Joseph Zeballos-Roig noted. Soon after Trump's election loss became clear, McConnell stepped forward to take the lead in negotiations and dug in with his far more restrictive offer.
Both sides of the house have called for compromise, while accusing the other side of refusing to do so. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) called McConnell's bill an "insult."
McConnell said in his statement on Wednesday that Democrats had, until recently, put up a "stone wall" to any plans but their own. The stalemate is worsening an increasingly urgent situation in the spiraling pandemic, where the U.S. set a grim record with more than 100,000 people hospitalized with the coronavirus yesterday.
Congress' current session due to end by Christmas. Lawmakers have a lot to do in not much time — as well as stimulus negotiations, there is a looming government shutdown that will kick in by December 11 unless averted.
With no agreement in view from Congress, Los Angeles approved $800 stimulus checks for food service workers Wednesday — but commentators have said this will not go far.
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