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McConnell says Congress won’t leave without passing coronavirus stimulus package

Mitch McConnell
Posted at 5:57 PM, Dec 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 00:00:51-05

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed on Tuesday that legislators would not go home for the holidays without an approval of a stimulus bill.

“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, we’ll be here,” McConnell said.

Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a similar proclamation.

But both sides have been working on economic relief for months, but have failed to come to any sort of compromise.

But a major sticking point is on whether companies should be protected from coronavirus-related lawsuits. The White House and McConnell have said companies need this protection in order to stay open amid the pandemic. Pelosi and Democrats are against the proposal, citing concerns that businesses will not follow public health guidelines.

“This is protection for our small businesses, so that they're not held liable for COVID incidences through no fault of their own,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Tuesday. ”And (Pelosi is) really playing up to the trial lawyers and opposing liability protection, which should be something that's just mere common sense.”

Two weeks ago, a bipartisan group of legislators proposed a $900 billion stimulus plan that would extend funds for additional unemployment benefits for up to 18 weeks per worker. The legislation also would replenish funds for the Paycheck Protection Program, which helped companies affected by the pandemic make payroll.

There would also be $160 billion earmarked for state and local governments, which have seen a drop in tax revenue due to the pandemic. There is in additional $45 billion allocated toward the transportation industry, most notably for airlines, which have seen an over 50% reduction in business since March.

But the bipartisan group’s newest proposal is to make the funding involving state and local governments a separate bill. It’s unclear, however, if that measure would gain enough support to pass, given McConnell’s and Trump’s past opposition to providing pandemic relief to state and local governments facing cuts amid a drop in tax revenue.

Another area of contention is on whether Congress should provide Americans with a second round of stimulus checks. While the bipartisan proposal doesn’t call for checks, members of both parties have suggested that a final proposal should include stimulus checks.