Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that he would seek to pass a new coronavirus stimulus bill when Congress returns to Washington next week.
McConnell, R-Ky., called a new bill “job one when we get back,” and said state and local aid could be part of the legislation.
“We need another rescue package,” McConnell, R-Ky., said at a press conference in Louisville a day after he was re-elected. “Hopefully the partisan passions that prevented us from doing another rescue package will subside with the election. And I think we need to do it and I think we need to do it before the end of the year.”
After an election in which it looks like Republicans will keep control of the U.S. Senate, McConnell appeared more willing to make a deal with the House Democratic majority.
In October, he said he would back legislation that was much less than the $2 trillion being discussed between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and White House officials.
House Democrats earlier this year passed legislation including another round of $1,200 stimulus payments, more money for the U.S. Postal Service to help handle an expected unprecedented amount of absentee ballots, a one-year suspension of the Republican tax law’s $10,000 cap on deducting state and local taxes, and $75 billion for a national program of testing, tracing and treatment to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Negotiations floundered in part over President Donald Trump’s opposition to providing aid to help states and localities hammered by the coronavirus-induced recession, pay for police officers, health care workers, teachers and other first responders.
McConnell also opposed such aid, claiming it would go to subsidize Democratic-run states even as Kentucky taxpayers received $2.41 for every $1 paid in federal taxes, according to the State University of New York’s Rockefeller Institute of Government.
On Wednesday, McConnell said he would reconsider. “It’s a possibility we will do more for state and local governments,” he said.
McConnell twice tried to bring slimmed-down packages to the Senate floor but did not have enough support to do so. Nether package included state and local funding nor another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, but did include taxpayer subsidies for religious and other private schools and did protect businesses from lawsuits if customers or employees became infected with COVID-19.
“I’m glad to hear that he finally wants to come to the negotiating table,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th Dist., co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus that proposed its own compromise stimulus plan. “With millions of people continuing to suffer, it would be unconscionable for either side not to come back to the table immediately.”
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