Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on May 26 that he expects talks on a fifth COVID-19 relief bill to resume “in the next month or so.”
Speaking at an event in Louisville, Kentucky, McConnell made the comment amid questions about the future of the government’s response to the economic catastrophe caused by the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
“Many of you are asking, what next? I think there’s likely to be another bill. It will not be the $3 trillion bill the House passed the other day. But there’s still a likelihood that more will be needed,” McConnell said, according to The Hill.
“In the next month or so, we’ll be talking about possibly another bill,” he said, adding that the fifth bill would be more finely tuned to address specific funding shortfalls rather than a sweeping package.
“We may need, as I said, one more plug here at the federal level to help us get through this period, but it will be very carefully crafted. It won’t be [a] $3 trillion left-wing wish list.”
McConnell’s comments broadly echo remarks he made last week, when he told Fox News that he saw a “high likelihood” of a fifth relief package, but qualified his statement by saying, “We need to work smart here.”
The Republican senator’s remarks come as Congress is at a crossroads in the virus crisis, wrestling over whether to “go big,” as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali.) wants for the next relief bill, or adopt McConnell’s pinpoint approach.
Pelosi and House Democrats passed a massive $3 trillion bill on May 15, worth more than all previous relief packages combined. It would deliver almost $1 trillion for state and local governments, another round of $1,200 direct payments to individuals and help for the unemployed, renters and homeowners, college debt holders, and the struggling U.S. Postal Service.
McConnell said the Democrat bill wouldn’t meet with Senate approval and in May 26 remarks sought to temper expectations around the size of the fifth bill, following the gargantuan package passed by the Democrat-led House, about which Pelosi said, “We could have done bigger.”
“We’re not going to be doing a $3 trillion bill. That won’t happen. … That isn’t going to happen,” McConnell said, according to The Hill.
Republicans have said they want to review how the earlier relief packages are working before committing to more stimulus.
Republican leaders have insisted any subsequent packages should contain liability protections for businesses reopening amid the pandemic.