McConnell: Republicans Nearing Agreement on Third COVID-19 Aid Bill

March 19, 2020 Updated: March 19, 2020
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on March 18 that Republicans were nearing an agreement on a third COVID-19 bill amid growing concerns about the CCP virus’s economic impact.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

The GOP leader and Senate Republicans said the chamber won’t go on an extended recess until a third economic relief plan is passed, which would be the latest in a series of measures in Congress to help Americans and businesses through the health crisis.

The third bill is expected to include financial assistance for health, tax, small businesses, families, and industries—and it may include cash payments to Americans.

“First, Senate Republicans and the administration are going to try to reach an agreement on what we think is best for what could best be described as phase three,” McConnell told reporters during a March 17 press conference. “Then, the Senate being the Senate, we will sit down with our Democratic counterparts and see what we can agree to.”

McConnell said he has put together four task forces to draft and negotiate the emergency relief package, members of which include Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) working on small businesses; Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) spearheading impacted industries; Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) on the public health response; and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) working on tax.

The group’s progress so far was presented March 18 during a closed-door lunch, and the senators involved are expected to hand in their work by March 19, The Hill reported. Republican senators hope a vote on the proposal can be scheduled by next week at the latest.

“We’ll continue to work on the next bill to respond to the crisis, and I want to repeat again: The Senate’s going to stay in session until we finish phase three,” McConnell said after the second CCP virus package was passed by the Senate on March 18.

“Republicans hope, shortly, to have a consolidated position, along with the administration, and we intend to sit down with our Democratic colleagues … and I would recommend senators stay around, close,” he said. “Just how long it will take to get through these steps is unclear, but as everyone knows, we are moving rapidly because the situation demands it.”

The House’s second emergency aid package was signed off by President Donald Trump on March 18 in an effort to deal with the economic fallout stemming from the pandemic and widespread disruptions to everyday life.

The emergency aid package will provide paid sick and family leave for a number of Americans, offer free virus testing, and bolster unemployment insurance. It’s the second such aid package this month.

The bill passed 90–8, with eight Republican senators voting against the measure. McConnell, however, backed the House bill.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.