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McConnell: Too early to bail out states and localities in a fourth COVID-19 bill

McConnell 'not ruling in or ruling out anything' in another package but says it must include ‘liability protections.’

Updated: May 5, 2020 - 5:17pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that Congress should allow the $2.2 trillion CARES Act to be fully implemented before passing another package focused on bailing out state and local governments.

“The Fed is setting up a new facility related to state and local government so we’ve got a brand new program here. Senator Thune pointed out we’ve spent roughly $2.8 trillion,” McConnell said. “We want to measure its effectiveness on virtually a daily basis as we move forward.”

McConnell was pressed on whether he would support another package focused on state and local funding in the $2 trillion range, which has been floated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders.

“We’re going to look at this on a daily basis and react to the needs that seem to be met and look at mistakes we may have made in the previous legislation and think about correcting them,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any particular sediment among Senate Republicans for a vast new rescue package for state and local before we even figure out exactly how the previous money we’ve allocated for state and locals are.”

McConnell added that he’s "not ruling in or ruling out anything” for another coronavirus bill but it has to include “liability protections” for businesses.

"Every day we're looking at adjustments. The Treasury is trying to make adjustments on their own – some may require legislative activity. We've heard from a lot of the governors who would like to have more flexibility to use the money we've already sent them. We're taking a look at that," McConnell said.

"I'm not going to make any big predictions about what happens here in the future. We may act again and if we do, it will be because we're taking a measured response first to what we've already done and then we'll see whether we need to do a lot more," he also said.

Pelosi said last week that state and local funding should be focused on replenishing revenue losses due to coronavirus and that it would help states and localities financially over a three- or four-year period in some cases.

“The states are putting together a number, she said. "You've heard a figure of $500 billion. The municipalities and counties have a similar figure but, again, we want to relate it to outlays and lost revenue. We're not going to be able to cover all of it but to the extent that we can keep the states and localities sustainable, that's our goal. That money is not just for one year. That could be for as much as three years, maybe even four in certain cases so it is over time.”

The National Association of Counties has called for Congress to provide $250 billion in funding for counties due to the coronavirus pandemic.