- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said a coronavirus aid package was “unlikely in the next three weeks” in the run-up to the election.
- “We do need another rescue package. But the proximity to the election and the differences of opinion about what is needed at this particular juncture are pretty vast,” he said at a Kentucky event.
- Any deal between the White House and Democrats faces an uphill battle to gain Senate GOP support.
- Many Republican senators have voiced concern over the swelling budget deficit, which stands at $3.1 trillion.
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Friday the passage of an economic stimulus package was improbable in the next few weeks before the election.
“I think the murkiness is a result of the proximity to the election, and everybody kind of trying to elbow for political advantage” he said during a campaign event in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. “I’d like to see us rise above that … but I think that’s unlikely in the next three weeks.”
But McConnell said another federal aid bill was needed.
“We do need another rescue package,” he said. “But the proximity to the election and the differences of opinion about what is needed at this particular juncture are pretty vast.”
The remarks reflect the difficulty a stimulus deal struck between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces. President Donald Trump abruptly halted negotiations on a bill on Tuesday, and appeared to restart them only two days later. He called for another round of stimulus checks and aid to airlines and small businesses on Thursday.
Trump on Friday called to “go big” in another coronavirus relief package.
“Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along,” he wrote in a tweet. “Go Big!”
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The Washington Post reported that the White House was preparing a $1.8 trillion stimulus offer for Democrats. Still, many GOP senators are unlikely to support it given their concern of the swelling budget deficit.
“Mnuchin can negotiate a deal with Democrats. But until Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans sign off, it doesn’t matter,” Brian Riedl, an economist at the right-leaning Manhattan Institute, recently told Business Insider.
The Congressional Budget Office reported that the gap between what the government spends and receives in taxes stood at $3.1 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year, three times larger than the year before.
But many economists are urging Congress to approve more federal spending to battle the pandemic and prop up the economy as unemployment remains high and permanent layoffs increase.
Republicans and Democrats haven’t approved more federal stimulus since they injected nearly $4 trillion in aid, the largest chunk coming from the CARES Act in March. Since then, both parties have been fiercely divided on spending levels and jobless benefits, among other measures.