Sen. Mitch McConnell has been working with Democrats to hammer out the details of the latest coronavirus relief package, but the Senate majority leader said many members of his own caucus are not so motivated.
On Friday, the Kentucky Republican said that more than one-third of the GOP members of the U.S. Senate will not vote for any new package of relief from the pandemic that has led to more than 150,000 deaths and sunk the American economy. As The Hill reported, McConnell said during an interview with a Kentucky radio station that there are “15 to 20 of my guys that are not going to vote for anything,” referring to other members of the Republican Party.
The report noted that Republicans and Democrats have struggled to come to an agreement on what should be included in the package, which would be the fifth bill offering help to Americans impacted by the coronavirus and businesses that have been devastated. McConnell said the two sides were currently “light years apart” and that there was much hard work ahead.
“This negotiation is going to be tough,” he said. “At the moment there’s not much movement.”
McConnell added that some Republicans are wary about adding even more to the national debt after having borrowed trillions of dollars in the first four rounds of bills. While he understood their qualms, McConnell said the best call was to provide more relief.
“Their argument’s not irrational… They don’t think we ought to pass another one of these bills. I don’t agree with that,” he said.
The debate is playing out against a backdrop of increasingly dire economic signs. As NPR reported, GDP numbers released this week show the biggest quarterly decline in the nation’s history.
“Gross domestic product — the broadest measure of economic activity — shrank at an annual rate of 32.9% in the second quarter as restaurants and retailers closed their doors in a desperate effort to slow the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 150,000 people in the U.S.,” the report noted.
As The Hill reported, negotiations on the next coronavirus bill are ongoing, with a focus on the size of stimulus checks that will be sent directly to Americans. While there is bipartisan support for sending another round of checks after the initial CARES Act in March sent $1,200 to adults and $500 per child under the age of 18, the dollar figure for the next round remains up for debate.