Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed attempts by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to spearhead talks about a fourth coronavirus relief bill, saying that she should “stand down” on the proposal.
“She needs to stand down on the notion that we’re going to go along with taking advantage of the crisis to do things that are unrelated to the crisis,” McConnell said, calling the speaker’s suggestions about fourth relief bill “premature.”
The Senate majority leader’s remarks come a week after Congress passed a massive $2 trillion stimulus package to offset the economic destruction caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to spread across the country, causing businesses to shutter and lay off workers.
The historic bill, the third coronavirus-related spending bill passed by Congress, provides $367 billion in loans to help small businesses keep making payroll, $100 billion for hospitals, and $150 billion for state and local governments.
The plan also provides for Americans who make up to $75,000 to receive a one-time payment of $1,200.
A $500 billion fund earmarked for corporations that have been economically damaged by the pandemic will be overseen by an inspector general and a congressional panel, in accordance with Democrats’ demands. The previous two emergency bills included free coronavirus testing, more funds for states, a mandate that businesses expand paid sick leave, and funds for medical supplies and vaccine research.
In a rare echoing of President Trump, Pelosi has said she would like to see an infrastructure investment in the next coronavirus spending bill to the tune of $760 billion, as well as $10 billion for health centers and housing programs. The speaker said Wednesday that her plan is “probably in the same ballpark” as the president’s.
“The victims of the coronavirus pandemic cannot wait,” Pelosi said in a statement responding to McConnell, adding that she hopes both sides in Congress can work together on the next relief legislation. “It is moving faster than the leader may have suspected, and even he has said that some things should wait for the next bill.”
McConnell maintained that spending vigilance was necessary on both sides, especially after the $2 trillion relief bill.
“We do have to be mindful of how to pay for it. There has been a lot of fantasizing on both sides about massive packages,” McConnell said. “We’d all love to do it, but there is the reality of how you pay for it. We just passed a $2 trillion bill, and it would take a lot of convincing to convince me that we should do transportation in a way that’s not credibly paid for after what we just passed last week.”