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McConnell and Pelosi expect a coronavirus relief deal — but huge differences remain

  • August 06, 2020

The Senate Republican leader has previously said he is “prepared to support” whatever deal Democrats and the Trump administration strike, even if he does not like parts of it. McConnell will likely have to rely on Democrats and the least conservative Republicans to pass a bill in the Senate, as many GOP senators oppose even the $1 trillion bill. 

“I’ve got members … who think we’ve done enough, but that’s not my view,” he told CNBC. 

Lawmakers face pressure to approve more relief after a $600 per week enhanced federal unemployment benefit expired at the end of July. Millions of people who lost jobs because of the pandemic have relied on the payments and now face a sudden and sharp loss of income. 

Democrats want to extend the extra unemployment benefits at $600 a week into next year. In their legislation, Senate Republicans called to continue the payments at $200 per week through September, then set the benefit at 70% wage replacement. 

The White House offered Democrats a short-term extension of the enhanced insurance. Pelosi and Schumer rejected it. 

New economic data released Thursday show the extent to which people still rely on the benefits in a floundering economy. Another 1.2 million people filed initial jobless claims last week. Continuing claims, or people getting benefits for two straight weeks, came in at 16.1 million. 

Democrats have repeatedly accused Republicans of moving too slowly to offer more relief during the pandemic. The GOP did not release its offer countering the Democratic bill until last week, giving the parties only a few days to strike an agreement before financial lifelines expired. 

He argued Congress needed to wait to see how the U.S. recovered after lawmakers passed more than $2.5 trillion in aid earlier this year. The economy appeared to lose momentum in July as Covid-19 outbreaks around the country forced states to pause or roll back their economic reopening. 

McConnell said it is “not too late” to pass more aid. 

“This is the perfect time to look at it,” he said. 

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