Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Friday that Americans “do not need another rescue package” amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has crippled the economy and people struggle across the country.
“We do need another rescue package,” McConnell told reporters during a press briefing in Kentucky, adding that said he does not expect Congress and the White House to reach a deal on a coronavirus package before the elections, citing a murky process amid political headwinds.
“I think the murkiness is a result of the proximity to the election, and everybody kind of trying to elbow for political advantage. I’d like to see us rise above that … but I think that’s unlikely in the next three weeks,” McConnell said.
“Hopefully sometime soon we’ll be able to deal with our differences and come together. I can’t tell you exactly when that might happen,” he added.
McConnell’s comments come as he’s been more circumspect about the chances of a deal. He has warned that just because Pelosi and Mnuchin reach an agreement doesn’t mean it can pass the Senate.
Talks between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows have been seesawing for months between weeks-long stalemates divided up by brief chatter that the negotiations could be revived.
The latest curveball came this week when Donald Trump appeared to pull the plug on a large agreement before the Nov. 3 elections, saying that there will be “no deal before he wins the election.”
The president then walked back his comments, saying he was open to specific pieces like another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) small-business aid, help for airlines and a second round of direct checks to individuals.
But Pelosi has been opposed to the idea of doing a slimmed down or piecemeal package, and the two sides remain far apart on the price tag — Democrats are at $2.2 trillion and Republicans around $1.6 trillion — as well as key policy areas like state and local government aid and how to structure a federal unemployment benefit.