WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday that the Senate would not leave Washington for the holidays until a Coronavirus The aid package is passed and he supports waiting until next year to tackle the most controversial components and reach an agreement.
McConnell’s comments come as lawmakers try to reach an agreement by Friday, though congress hits the deadline to pass laws to keep the government funded. Leaders from both parties hope to add the Covid-19 aid package to the state funding bill.
“We’re not going, I assure you, we’re not going until we finish this package,” McConnell promised on Tuesday.
McConnell said he supported dropping the “two most controversial issues of the moment” – corporate liability protection left open during the pandemic and funding from state and local governments – that stalled negotiations and prevented Congress from doing so have had significant Covid-19 laws passed since March.
“We all know that the new administration will ask for another package. It’s not that we won’t have another opportunity to discuss the benefits of liability reform and state and local government in the near future,” said McConnell.
Both parties appear to have support in removing these sticking points in order to achieve the relief they can agree on before the holidays.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers released two bills on Monday: one that included liability coverage and state and local funding, and one that left those items out.
Even some Democrats, who had previously shown little interest in stepping back from seeking state and local aid, have indicated their willingness to compromise.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Said on CNN’s Inside Politics on Sunday that state and local aid is “vitally important” but added that Congress “needs to do what is essential” to to help the fighting Americans.
McConnell mentioned Hoyer’s comments on Tuesday, saying that “it’s pretty obvious that the way to get a deal for weeks is exactly what I said, what Steny Hoyer suggested and what the non-partisan group suggested.”
McConnell is expected to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Late Tuesday. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., And Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are also expected.
Pelosi’s office said she spoke to Mnuchin for an hour Tuesday about Covid-19 aid as well as the state finance bill.
While there seems to be some momentum on Capitol Hill, the clock is ticking for lawmakers to reach an agreement. Millions of workers will lose unemployment benefits on December 26th, the day after Christmas, if they are not renewed.