Mitch McConnell signaled this week that Americans may not see a new round of coronavirus relief until early next year, even as both Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi have pushed for something sooner.
As CNBC reported, the Kentucky senator and Senate minority leader said during a radio appearance this week that he expects a new relief deal to be finalized “right at the beginning of the year,” telling host Hugh Hewitt that legislation would target struggling small businesses and hospitals that are hit hard by the latest surge in cases.
McConnell said that with a growing number of financial pressures and needs spread out across the country, there was a need for a careful approach.
“I think we need to make a careful, calculated decision about what more to do to deal with this coronavirus,” McConnell said, via CNN. “We’re throwing money at the search for a vaccine, which is the wise thing to do.”
That was something of a mixed signal from other political leaders, with Trump saying new legislation would come immediately after Election Day. Pelosi has also said she would like to see a package finalized sooner. The House speaker has led Democrats in passing a wide-ranging package earlier this year, but McConnell and Republicans have not moved forward with their own version.
The CNBC report noted that the differences show an unclear path for when Americans could see more relief from the pandemic that has led to surging unemployment and the closure of a number of businesses.
“The mixed messages follow a day of tense correspondence between Pelosi and the Trump administration as the sides struggle to break a monthslong impasse over stimulus. How they could craft a bipartisan deal capable of passing the Republican-held Senate and Democratic-controlled House remains unclear,” the report noted, adding that there is more uncertainty due to the upcoming election, when both the Senate and White House could potentially change hands.
McConnell has come under fire for not moving forward on new stimulus legislation, especially as he moved quickly to confirm the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The lack of movement on a new package comes as coronavirus cases have surged across the country, putting pressure on hospital systems in a number of states. Public health experts have warned that infections will likely rise in the fall and winter months, as more people are inside and social distancing becomes more difficult.