McConnell eyes next coronavirus package after July recess

Negotiations are likely to be even more painful in this round of talks.


By Marianne Levine and Sarah Ferris, POLITICO



Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday gave his clearest signal yet that Republicans are willing to move swiftly on another coronavirus relief package, after some states have seen a spike in cases.


The Kentucky Republican said that the Senate will focus on the next coronavirus package when it returns from the two-week July 4 recess, with the goal of finishing before both chambers depart for their lengthy August break.


That period “dovetails nicely with the perfect time, to take an assessment of the economy and the progress we’re making on the health care front and see if there is additional assistance needed for our health care providers, ” McConnell said.


Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) added that “a month from now we should be in the final stages of getting that bill together” and that talks are starting on a package that will “ensure we have more testing, that we continue to work on therapeutics and that we have the money we need to move forward with a vaccine.”


But negotiations are likely to be even more painful in this round of talks, with Republicans and Democrats divided over what to do with billions of dollars in programs that are set to expire at the end of July. One such program — the extra $600 per week in jobless benefits — has been a financial lifeline for America’s 44 million unemployed, but the two sides can’t agree whether to renew it. Republicans argue that the program provides a disincentive to return to work.


McConnell said Tuesday that “unemployment is extremely important” but added “that is a different issue from whether we ought to pay people a bonus not to go back to work.”


Democrats have long demanded another round of relief. In mid-May, the House passed its own recovery package, which would deliver billions in aid to cash-strapped state and local governments, as well as hazard pay for frontline workers, housing and food assistance, and another round of stimulus checks to many Americans...