McConnell in the Middle

Senate majority leader now playing aggressively to get aid packages through the upper chamber

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
(Tim Brenner / Getty Images)
Last Updated:
March 18, 2020 - 2:26pm

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    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is stepping up efforts to address the coronavirus outbreak amid recent criticism that he hasn’t moved quickly or decisively enough on the emergency coronavirus-funding package passed by the House. 

    McConnell's critics point out that the lower chamber passed the nearly $1 trillion stimulus package last week and that he allowed Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to act as the primary GOP negotiator with Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi.

    “We’re going to move here at warp speed for the Senate, which almost never does anything quickly,” the Kentucky Republican said Wednesday.

    On Tuesday, McConnell, the top Republican in the GOP-controlled chamber, put aside earlier concerns about the Pelosi bill having flaws, urging senators to make Americans’ needs a higher priority.

    “A number of my members think that there were considerable shortcomings in the House bill,” he said, offering an explanation for the delay on the Senate's passing of the bill. “My counsel to them is to gag and vote for it anyway.”

    The House bill, in its current form, would make coronavirus testing free, expand unemployment aid to states, provide two weeks of paid sick leave, and extend emergency leave for individuals diagnosed with coronavirus. President Trump has expressed his support for the House bill.

     

    In a floor speech on Wednesday, McConnell said that the Senate will stay at work to pass legislation that guarantees an “historic injection of liquidity,” into the American economy. 

    Small businesses in particular are expected to suffer during the economically uncertain period ahead. 

    “They need help,” McConnell said. “They need a lifeline. The Senate is not going to leave small business behind." 

    He also on Wednesday reconfirmed that the Senate will pass the House bill and that its “imperfections will make our more comprehensive package even more urgent.”