McConnell: 'I believe there will be’ one last COVID-19 stimulus package passed in the Senate
'This will have to be the last rescue package because we now have a debt the size of our economy for the first time since World War II,' the Senate majority leader says
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expects to unveil one more coronavirus relief package when voting resumes July 20 in his chamber that includes liability protections for businesses, hospitals, health care professionals and others.
“For us to have a normal situation across the country, it seems to me the next package, if there is one, and I believe there will be one, must contain the following: number one: liability protection, and this is not just for businesses,” McConnell said during an event at the Dare to Care Food Bank in Kentucky on Monday.
“This is for hospitals, doctors, nurses, non-profits, universities, colleges, K through 12 so that people who acted in good faith during this crisis are not confronted with a second epidemic of lawsuits in the wake of the pandemic that we’re already struggling with,” he added. “We cannot be back to normal if we have an epidemic of lawsuits.”
McConnell also said children need to be able to return to school in the fall.
“We cannot have a normal country if kids aren’t back in school and kids and jobs are directly related,” he said. "That will be part of any package I craft and we take up in the Senate for debate, to do whatever we can to help America get back to normal and right at the top of the list is kids in school – parents are literally petrified of the possibility of kids not being back."
McConnell announced that the theme of the next stimulus package that he’s “likely to roll out” in the next few weeks would be “liability reform, kids in school, jobs and health care — that’s where the focus, it seems to me, ought to be.”
The Kentucky Republican said the bill would “start” in his office and hopefully gain bipartisan support along the way.
“In consultation with the administration and also with Senate Democrats we’ll be moving forward in all likelihood sometime during the month of July,” he said.
The Senate returns for votes on July 20.
The last coronavirus stimulus package the Senate passed was the $2.2 trillion CARES Act. The House passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act in May that included federal assistance for state and local governments, stimulus payments for illegal immigrants who have recently filed taxes and expanding mail voting provisions for the November election such as requiring states to mail out ballots to every register voter. Senate Republicans oppose the bill in its current form.
Speaking at a different event in Kentucky, McConnell said that the fourth coronavirus package would be the last one.
"This will have to be the last rescue package because we now have a debt the size of our economy for the first time since World War II. We cannot keep doing this," he said, referring to the national debt, which has surpassed $26 trillion.
McConnell signaled that direct payments might also be part of the fourth package.
"I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less. Many of them work in the hospitality industry. The hospitality industry, as all of you know, just got rim-racked — hotels, restaurants — and so that could well be a part of it," he said.
"I can't comfortably predict we're going to come together and pass it unanimously like we did a few months ago," he also said. "The atmosphere has become more political than it was in March but I think we will do something. The country needs one last boost."
McConnell also urged Americans to wear a mask in public.
“The single most important thing that each of us can do as individuals to not only protect ourselves but our colleagues is to wear a mask,” he said.