Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

‘As long as it takes’: McConnell vows Republicans would stay through Christmas to get a Covid bailout deal

‘We’re not leaving here without a Covid package,’ majority leader says

Griffin Connolly
Tuesday 15 December 2020 20:36 GMT
What you need to know about the coronavirus vaccines
Leer en Español

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi in suggesting members of his party would stay in Washington through Christmas to secure new, badly needed Covid relief legislation.

“We're not leaving here without a Covid package. It's not gonna happen. We're gonna stay here until we get a Covid package, no matter how long it takes,” the Kentucky Republican said at a press conference with fellow GOP leaders on Tuesday.

For good measure, he added: “We'll be here until we get a Covid package.”

Mr McConnell once again urged Democrats to drop their demands for an infusion of cash for state and local governments in exchange for Republicans agreeing to table their proposal to shield businesses, health care facilities, and school systems from liability lawsuits stemming from Covid exposure.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Ms Pelosi’s top deputy in the chamber, indicated Democrats could be softening on their position, which would be welcome news for Mr McConnell.

“We're not negotiating the deal in here,” Mr McConnell told reporters at his press conference on Tuesday, “but it's pretty obvious the way to get a deal for weeks has been as exactly what I said, what Steny Hoyer suggested, and what the bipartisan group has suggested… [which is] to drop the two most contentious items for the moment.”

Mr McConnell continued: “We all know the new administration is going to be asking for yet another package. It's not like we won't have another opportunity to debate the merits of liability reform and state local government in the very near future.”

On Sunday, Mr Hoyer admitted Democrats would not get “everything we want” in the next Covid package.

Securing more aid for state and local governments is “important,” Mr Hoyer said, “and if we can get that, we want to get it.”

But, he added: "We want to get aid out to the people who are really, really struggling and are at grave risk.”

Ms Pelosi has set an absolute deadline for passing more Covid relief for 26 December, when the Covid federal unemployment programme that gives recently laid-off Americans $600 per week is set to expire.

But lawmakers, eager to leave Washington so they can be home with their families for Christmas, are keen on striking a deal worth roughly $1trn, to bolt onto the $1.4trn government appropriations package that is shaping up for a final vote this coming Friday, by 18 December.

A bipartisan group of moderate senators introduced a $908bn bill on Monday that would re-up the federal unemployment aid programme, authorise more small business lending through the Treasury Department’s Paycheck Protection Programme (PPP), and provide a $6bn outlay for vaccine distribution, among several other measures.

The bill does not, however, break the stalemate over Republican and Democratic leaders’ separate demands on liability protections and money for state and local governments.

And it does not authorise another round of $1,200 stimulus checks for most Americans, a sticking point for Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is threatening to shut down the government to secure those direct payments.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in