Over a dozen Republican senators will likely not vote for any new CCP virus relief deal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Friday, no matter what’s in the package.
“I’ve got 15 or 20 members who probably won’t vote for any version of this, because they think we’ve added enough to the national debt already,” McConnell said during an interview with Kentucky radio station WHAS.
“I respect that opinion. It’s not my opinion. It’s not the president’s. And to do another package, we have to work out a deal with the Democrats, and that’s what we’re working on,” he added.
The Senate is on break for the weekend. The body adjourned without reaching a deal on expiring jobless benefits or a relief package.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) repeatedly referenced division in the GOP caucus over what should be in the next package.
“They’re tied in a total knot, because of the disunity in their caucus, because of their inability to gather votes, because the president says one thing one day and says another thing the other day. We have a plan. It’s called the HEROES Act,” Schumer told reporters on Capitol Hill.
“We believe that that should be passed. And, if not, they should tell us which parts of it they don’t like and won’t go for. They can’t do that, because they’re so divided and so incoherent.”
Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate. Legislation requires 60 votes to pass. Democrats control the House. The House passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act in May, but McConnell has refused to take it up in the Senate, favoring a smaller plan.
President Donald Trump joined some senators in opposing McConnell’s plan, calling the proposal “semi-irrelevant.”
“It’s sort of semi-irrelevant because the Democrats come with their needs and asks and the Republicans go with theirs,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
“We’ll be talking about it,” he added.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows are taking point on negotiations, trying to hammer out a deal with Republican and Democrat leaders.
McConnell said on the radio that the relief deal should come in around $1 trillion, about a third of what Democrats want.
“It ought to be narrowly crafted to deal with getting kids back in school, reinforcing jobs through the popular PPE program … and further underwriting health care, because the pandemic is clearly not over,” he said.
Republicans oppose sending more funds to state and local governments. According to the Treasury Department, as of June 30, Kentucky and the city of Louisville haven’t spent 94 percent of the funds designated in previous relief bills, McConnell noted, adding: “We want to see some real demonstrated need before doing another slug of money for state and local government.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) joined Schumer with reporters this week, presenting a united front and emphasizing that House Democrats don’t support McConnell’s proposal.
“We don’t know why Republicans come around here with a skinny bill that does nothing to address really what’s happening with the virus, and has a little of this and a little of that,” she said. “We’re not accepting that.”
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