Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell doubled down on his targeted approach to COVID-19 relief Thursday, but remained optimistic about a coronavirus deal.
Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said it was “heartening” to see Democrats endorse a compromise proposal this week, but there are still too many outstanding issues to be negotiated.
“There are many important policies that have strong bipartisan support. There are many others that do not. And the way to help the country is to finally let the former group be signed into law while we keep arguing about the rest,” he said. “Here in the Senate, I put forward a serious and highly targeted relief proposal including the elements which we know the President is ready and willing to sign into law.”
“Compromise is within reach. We know where we agree. We can do this…let’s be about actually making law,” he said.
The latest proposal from Mr. McConnell, circulated amongst GOP senators this week and preapproved by President Trump, is similar to the $500 billion “skinny” package from earlier this year that provided funds for schools, vaccines, and small business loans — all widely agreed upon programs. It would also provide a short-term extension for unemployment benefits.
Though, the proposal also includes liability protections for schools, hospitals and businesses against coronavirus-related issues — a top priority for Republicans, but a key sticking point for Democrats.
On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, stepped off their more than $2 trillion package and embraced a $908 billion bipartisan, bicameral proposal as a new starting point for negotiations.
That proposal would provide $160 billion for state and local governments, $288 billion for small business assistance and the Paycheck Protection Program, along with short-term liability protections.
There would also be more funds to provide $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefits through March and $16 billion for vaccine distribution.