McConnell: Not Sure If There Will Be Pandemic Relief Deal at All

September 11, 2020 Updated: September 11, 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Friday noted that the chance of another stimulus package being passed in Congress is grim—for the time being.

“We have been in a challenging period. … Regretfully, I can’t tell you today we’re going to get there. … I wish I could tell you we were going to get another package but it doesn’t look that good right now,” McConnell said at an event, according to The Hill.

McConnell on Friday said negotiations between the White House and top Democrats are in a “gridlock,” adding that is likely because “we’re getting closer to the election.”

“I can’t predict that we’re going to get together here in the last two months before the election. … I would hope we could overcome our partisan differences and reach an agreement, but that has not happened as of today,” he said.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans voted in favor of a pared-down stimulus proposal that would include—among other things—expanded unemployment benefits, liability protections for businesses, and an extension of March’s small business loan program. Democrats blocked the bill from advancing to the floor for debate.

Ahead of the vote, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Republicans will eventually have to come to the negotiating table and agree to a larger deal with more provisions, as Democrats have sought. In May, the House passed the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act, while Republicans’ proposed bill on Thursday was worth about $500 billion.

The measures are intended to stave off economic damages incurred by the pandemic caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, a novel coronavirus.

“There’s a good chance they feel the pressure once they see the Democrats are not going to fold to this emaciated bill, which leaves so much out. The pressure will mount on them,” Schumer told CNN, referring to Republicans. The minority leader said another bill will need to have funding for state and local jurisdictions, a proposal that Republicans in the Senate and White House do not favor.

Schumer said the GOP bill does not meet “the needs of the American people,” adding that it “McConnell had to, in a very cynical exercise, put together something that would check the box.”

But McConnell told reporters that the vote was about doing “something” or “nothing.”

“Democratic leaders know this simple choice will put the spotlight on their partisan antics,” the Kentucky Republican added. “They know this vote will expose their obstruction.”

Negotiations between Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and the White House broke down in August. It’s not clear when they will be restarted, although the House of Representatives is scheduled to return to Washington next week.