- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he’d bring a potential coronavirus relief deal up for a vote, though several of his members remain skeptical of a hefty spending spree.

Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, defended leaving the $1,200 stimulus checks out of their upcoming relief package, noting that the GOP conference wanted to keep the price tag lower than the options considered by those working on a more comprehensive deal.

"We talked about $500 billion was appropriate for at this juncture," he said. "If a presidentially supported bill clears the House at some point, we’ll bring it to the floor," he said.

"If the deal is announced then it will have to be written, then people will have a chance to take a look at it, then it will have to clear the House. And if all of that occurs, of course, we would consider it," he added.

The Senate Republicans’ $500 billion package is more than $1 trillion less than both the White House’s $1.8 trillion offer and House Democrats’ $2.2 trillion package that are serving as opposing goalposts for a larger stimulus deal.

Senate Republicans, however, are concerned they’ll be signing off on unnecessary spending for what they see as blue state bailouts or non-coronavirus-related items, such as new election laws.

"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," Sen. Mitt Romney, Utah Republican, told reporters regarding a potential $1.8 trillion deal. "Something far more target targeted to the people who really need help, I’d like to see done and I’d like to see [it] done as quick as possible."

Congress has already spent nearly $3 trillion on coronavirus relief.

President Trump, though, is confident he can get Senate Republicans to back whatever deal he makes, even if that comes with a price tag of over $2.2 trillion.

"Not every Republican agrees with me but they will. But I want to do it even bigger than the Democrats because this is money going to people that did not deserve what happened to them coming out of China," he said on Fox News.

"I’d take all the votes you could get, whether it’s Democrat or Republican," Mr. Trump said when asked if he’d be willing to get support from across the aisle to get a deal done.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, are attempting to work out the handful of disagreements they still have on items such as state and local government money, liability protections, and the topline figure by the end of the day.

Mrs. Pelosi clarified her deadline Tuesday afternoon on BloombergTV, saying it’s the last day to have deal terms on the table to get a package drafted, passed through both chambers, and signed into law by Election Day — though there is a lot of skepticism on Capitol Hill it can get done.

"I’d have to see the particulars. That’s a high number to me," said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby. "Our staff has been trying to work with the Treasury, the secretary of the Treasury’s staff, and also the House and we have no particulars to work on.

"You never know what’s gonna happen around here at the last minute,” he said. “But it’s getting to be towards the last minute. The clock keeps ticking away. And I’m not optimistic about us doing anything.”

While Senate Republicans are pushing their relief proposals — a stand-alone Paycheck Protection Program bill and the skinny package — while Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is trying to get a vote on the $2.2 trillion package passed by the House earlier this month.

"We are making an effort to bring to the floor the HEROES 2 bill, the bill that passed the House that would have a realistic chance of helping people. And it has many things in it that are not in either bill that is being brought up today & tomorrow by the Republican Senate stunt," said Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat.

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