Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday the Senate Republican Covid-19 stimulus bill “will be announced on Monday” and he hopes it will lead to negotiations and passage of a bill “in the next few weeks.”
The Senate is scheduled to start its recess in two weeks and the House in one week, although House Democratic leaders have said they’re prepared to stay in session to complete work on the bill.
Speaking at a news conference in Ashland, Kentucky, McConnell said lawmakers have spent $3 trillion already in response to the outbreak and subsequent shutdown of the economy and therefore “need to be very careful what we do next” because that spending led to “a national debt the size of our economy for the first time since World War II, so that in itself is concerning.”
McConnell said Republicans “envision another round of direct cash payments, especially to those making $40,000 a year and less” with a focus on “the hospitality industry (which) has been really hit hard.”
The Kentucky Republican also said he expects an extension of federal unemployment benefits would be included in the bill but not the $600 federal payments to those out of work because Republicans believe it’s created a disincentive for people to return to their jobs.
“But I do think basic unemployment insurance, fundamentally handled by the state but backed up by us will be a part of it,” McConnell said.
Finally, McConnell explained the GOP proposal will include liability protections for businesses, schools, and other entities to make sure they are not sued if people get sick as the economy reopens, he has explained before.
“The measure will include liability protection, for the coronavirus only, beginning in December 2019 and running for the next four years,” he said. “That will be the beginning of the discussion with the Democrats next week. Hopefully, we can come together behind something we can agree on in the next few weeks.”