Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Friday that another coronavirus stimulus bill will not happen until after Election Day.
Speaking to reporters from his home in Kentucky, McConnell said “the situation’s kind of murky” while negotiators try to “elbow for political advantage” as Americans cast their ballots.
“I’d like to see us rise above that like we did back in March and April, but I think that’s unlikely in the next three weeks,” McConnell admitted, according to CNBC.
McConnell added that his focus now is on confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. McConnell said the chamber will move forward with her confirmation hearing on Monday while Democrats continue to say they should wait until after the election.
Since May, both sides of the political spectrum have been going back and forth over a second coronavirus stimulus package. Initially, Republicans wanted to wait on a second bill, thinking the economy would open again during the summer. However, the virus’s impact in the U.S. has only gotten worse and much of the aid from the first bill, including the $600 federal unemployment benefit, has expired.
Democrats passed a second package in May, but the $3 trillion price tag was a non-starter for Republicans. Last month, a second stimulus bill that was largely scaled back failed in the Senate by a 52-47 vote. All Democrats and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) voted against the bill.
On Wednesday, President Trump told McConnell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to stop negotiating for a new stimulus package. The stock market reacted immediately as the Dow Jones fell more than 300 points and airline companies warned that without federal help they will be forced to layoff thousands.
Hours later, Trump tried to push the government into helping by tweeting “The House & Senate should IMMEDIATELY Approve 25 Billion Dollars for Airline Payroll Support, & 135 Billion Dollars for Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business.”
However, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said there will be no piecemeal coronavirus relief package. Just before McConnell’s admission Friday, President Trump raised the amount the Trump administration is willing to spend on a second relief package from $1.6 trillion to $1.8 trillion, but that is still short of the $2.2 trillion Democrats want to spend on a new package.