The Senate will begin debate next week on the next pandemic response bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters, suggesting it will be difficult for Republicans and Democrats to compromise on key measures as Democrats are seeking more aid.
“Next week, we’ll be beginning a new bill,” McConnell told WRVK radio in Kentucky. Even though the negotiations are expected to be lengthy, he said, “I do think we’ll get there and do something that needs to be done” before Congress begins its August recess.
For the next package, the Kentucky Republican argued, Congress should not “lightly add more to the national debt.”
“When my members come back next week, we’ll start socializing it with them, begin to discuss it with the Democrats and start the legislative process,” he explained on the radio program. “I think you can anticipate this coming to a head sometime within the next three weeks, beginning next week.”
The Senate is slated to return on July 20 after being on recess since early in the month, and the next recess is starting on Aug. 10. The extra unemployment payments of $600 per week are scheduled to end at the end of July, although most Republicans don’t support extending the measure, while Democrats have sought to allow the benefits to end in early next year.
McConnell and other White House officials have talked about the next package costing no more than $1 trillion, while Democrats in the House of Representatives approved a $3 trillion bill in May that has been mostly ignored by Senate Republicans. That bill, the HEROES Act, would allow for more direct payments to a broader swath of Americans, extend the extra unemployment payments, and give more money to city and state governments.
President Donald Trump, at the same time, said he would like to see more direct stimulus payments to Americans, adding that he supports sending checks with greater amounts than what Democrats have proposed. However, White House adviser Larry Kudlow suggested in an interview last week that the payments will be smaller than $1,200 and will be targeted at lower-income Americans.
“That kind of economic assistance will probably be very carefully targeted,” Kudlow said at the White House on July 10. “It’s not going to be across the board,” he added, according to the Reuters news agency.
McConnell also discussed the possibility of sending direct payments to individuals who make less than $40,000 annually.
The CARES Act, passed in March, was created to offset potential economic losses and budget shortfalls as governors issued stay-at-home measures and closed businesses to curb the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.