Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) gave the slightest glimmer of hope on Tuesday that a coronavirus economic stimulus package will see the light, saying that he would allow for a deal to be voted on in the Senate if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and President Donald Trump reach an agreement.
“If a presidentially supported bill clears the House at some point, we’ll bring it to the floor,” McConnell stated at a press conference.
(Watch the full press conference here.)
Negotiations for a second coronavirus relief bill have been stalled since the summer, with Democrats and Republicans playing ping-pong with each other on policy specifics and its price tag. Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have been hashing out this new package deal. The initial relief bill was passed back in the spring.
Whether or not this potential stimulus package will receive a vote before November 3 is uncertain, with McConnell not setting anything in stone. Asked if Senate Republicans would support a bill in the range of $1.8 to $2.2 trillion, McConnell said: “We’d have to see what it was first.”
Casting further uncertainty about a potential deal, other Senate Republicans declined to automatically endorse a potential $1.8 trillion bill and doubted that one of that size could be passed.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Tuesday said: “I think it’s very unlikely that a number of that level would make it through the Senate, and I don’t support something of that level.”
The second-highest-ranked Senate Republican, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), believes that it’ll be challenging to convince enough GOP senators to vote for a bill with that price tag.
“My guess is the leader is going to want to see some evidence that whatever is agreed upon has Republican support to try to convince Republicans over here to be for it,” Thune said.
“Their natural instinct, depending on how big it is and what’s in it, is probably going to be to be against it,” he added.
On Wednesday, the Senate will vote on a separate $500 billion GOP-sponsored COVID-19 relief bill. Additionally, the Senate is set to vote Thursday on whether to confirm of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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Biden spends $1.65 trillion taxpayer dollars while vacationing in St. Croix
While vacationing in the island of St. Croix for the holidays, President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law the massive $1.65 omnibus spending package.
The whopping 4,155 pages was supported by only nine House Republicans and 13 Senate Republicans. Majority of criticism from the GOP includes concerns that the bill was rushed and crammed with wasteful spending by a lame-duck Democratic-dominated Congress. The recourse will punish American families by adding to the national debt and exacerbate inflation.
“Today, I signed the bipartisan omnibus bill, ending a year of historic progress. It’ll invest in medical research, safety, veteran health care, disaster recovery, VAWA funding — and gets crucial assistance to Ukraine,” Biden tweeted. “Looking forward to more in 2023.”
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell “praised the bill on the grounds that it represents a real decrease in discretionary spending. He presented it as a positive that nondefense spending jumped by only 5.5 percent, from $730 billion to $772.5 billion, amid an inflation rate of 7.1 percent” writes National Review.
“The bipartisan government-funding bill that Senators Shelby and Leahy have finished negotiating does exactly the opposite of what the Biden administration first proposed,” he said. “This bill provides a substantial real-dollar increase to the defense baseline . . . and a substantial real-dollar cut to the non-defense, non-veterans baseline,” McConnell insisted as negotiations were wrapping up.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, however, stated his strong disapproval of the bill before it even advanced. Affirming a letter from 13 House Republicans, McCarthy demanded the bill is reckless, irresponsible, and a “purposeful refusal to secure and defend our borders.”
For example, it failed to incorporate protections for Title 42, the pandemic policy that allows illegal immigrants to be expelled on a public-health basis, which currently hangs in the balance at the Supreme Court.
National Review adds, “The funding in the bill, which averted a federal government shutdown before the new year, includes an allocation of $45 billion in defense assistance to Ukraine. Some Republican priorities, such as Electoral Count Act reform and a bigger military budget, were nested in with Democratic appropriations, such as increased funding for Medicaid and food stamps.”
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