Sen. Mitch McConnell. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday there is “no reason” Congress can’t quickly agree a new round of coronavirus stimulus.
Democrats and Republicans have been at an impasse for months, with Republicans seeking a slimmer deal and Democrats looking for more.
Time is short: Congress is meeting for a short session due to end by Christmas, and also has to avert a government shutdown.
Among the issues to be thrashed out are whether to send another round of $1,200 direct payments to Americans.
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged the mounting pressure to deliver another round of economic stimulus, and said there is “no reason” that it couldn’t be done by the end of 2020.
Democrats and Republicans have been in a deadlock over introducing new stimulus, with Democrats looking to pass a much bigger package than GOP lawmakers will approve.
The last coronavirus relief package was passed in spring, and expired in July. In the meantime, many American businesses and households continued to suffer the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
McConnell said on the Senate floor on Monday that Congress had a number of things it “should get done before the end of the year.”
And he added: “There is no reason – none – why we should not deliver another major pandemic relief package to help the American people through what seems poised to be the last chapters of this battle.”
Lawmakers are only sitting for a few weeks, and also hope to address a looming government shutdown due to kick in on December 11, leaving little time for McConnell’s ambition to come true.
As Business Insider’s Tom Porter reported on Monday, both President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden have called on Congress to come to an agreement.
Congressional leaders from both parties have continued to attack each other in recent days.
On Monday McConnell described the two leading Congressional Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, as carrying out “all-or-nothing obstruction.”
Pelosi and Schumer wrote to McConnell in November, arguing for more spending than the GOP has been willing to approve.
They said: “It is essential that this bill have sufficient funding and delivers meaningful relief to the many Americans who are suffering,” The New York Times reported.
Democrats have proposed a $2.2 trillion relief plan with a revival of the $600 weekly unemployment benefit from the CARES Act, a second round of $1,200 direct payments for Americans, aid for small businesses, and funding for state and local governments.
Republicans have proposed a smaller relief package, arguing that the economy is better than expected. In September, they unveiled a $500 billion package that included small-business relief and public-health funding.
Senate Republicans did not include another round of $1,200 checks in their latest relief bill in October, per CNBC, though the parties had earlier signaled an agreement on sending more checks.
CNN reported Monday that the Congressional leaders are not negotiating with each other directly, but that their staffs are talking.
Many economists are urging lawmakers to pass another relief package in order to minimize the economic blow of the pandemic
Politico reported that millions of workers across the US could lose access to paid sick and family leave if another relief package isn’t passed before the end of the year.
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