Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that a second coronavirus aid package must be put together before the end of the year, although he had previously indicated that this would probably not happen before early 2021.
“We need another aid package… I think we need to do it and we need to do it before the end of the year,” McConnell said in Louisville, Kentucky, according to a tweet from CSPAN Capitol Hill producer Craig Caplan.
The deadline for passing the next federal budget falls on December 11. Congress must pass another spending bill by that date to avoid a standstill.
“We must finance the government. The speaker and I agree that we should make an omnibus appropriations bill, and we should do it in December,” McConnell said.
McConnell’s statement follows his victory over Democrat Amy McGrath in the Senate race in Kentucky. The Associated Press called the race for McConnell on Tuesday at 20:01 ET – a victory that will take him to the upper house for the seventh consecutive time.
The Kentucky Republican said last week that the U.S. economy is likely to need a reduced stimulus package early next year, which is a strong indicator that the second wave of coronavirus relief will not reach the pockets of struggling Americans during the lame session of Congress in November and December.
“We’ll probably have to put together another package, certainly more modest than the $3 trillion Nancy-Pelosi package,” McConnell told radio host Hugh Hewitt in an October 30 interview. “I think this is something we need to do right at the beginning of the year.
McConnell’s remarks then implied that he did not expect the ongoing talks between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to lead to a bipartisan agreement that could be passed in the current Congress.
McConnell stated that a more targeted measure was needed than the $1.9 trillion package offered by Mnuchin and the $2.2 trillion measure demanded by Pelosi.
“We could target it particularly at small businesses in difficulty and hospitals now struggling with the second wave of coronavirus, and of course the challenges to education, both K-12 and college,” McConnell continued.
McConnell’s comments on Wednesday are a sign that the likelihood of another stimulus package being reached and passed before a new Congress and possibly a new president is sworn in in January is dwindling but not disappearing.
Pelosi said on Thursday that she would prefer to reach an agreement and pass a bill before the end of the year, regardless of who won the election.
“The American people need help. Second, in a Joe Biden administration, we have a lot of work to do… We want to have a clean slate by January.
McConnell did not respond in time for publication to Washington Newsday’s request for a comment….