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McConnell to support White House-Democrats deal, if one can be struck

Jennifer Shutt and Lindsey McPherson, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he'd support whatever agreement the Trump administration and congressional Democrats reach on a coronavirus relief package, even if he has "some problems with certain parts of it."

The Kentucky Republican, who is up for reelection in November, said his definition of success in the stalled negotiations would be a package "that will actually make a difference" including liability protections for businesses, doctors and schools; money for testing, vaccines and other health care needs; more funds for Paycheck Protection Program loans; and money to help schools reopen this fall.

If the final bill renews a $600 weekly federal boost for unemployment benefits that expired last week -- a top priority for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer -- McConnell said it's likely many Republicans vote against the proposal.

"I think I'm pretty safe to say that there are plenty of Republicans in the Senate who may not vote for a package if that's where it ends up," McConnell said following a closed-door lunch with Senate Republicans, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Meadows and Mnuchin were meeting with Pelosi and Schumer again Tuesday afternoon, another in a series of near-daily meetings since last week that haven't yet borne fruit. The quartet and key staff plan to continue meeting daily until they reach a deal.

Mnuchin is expected to put forward a few proposals during the Tuesday afternoon meeting that Meadows hopes will be met with "enthusiasm," though he conceded the sides are "a long ways away from striking any kind of a deal."


Both White House negotiators said if Democrats continue to object to their offers they'll urge Trump to provide some relief through executive action.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., believes the two sides are getting close to agreement on some of the big areas that are directly related to COVID-19, including funding for vaccine development and distribution, education funding, child care and testing.

"On the areas ... that come first to mind when you deal with most of this, we're pretty close. But not on the areas that don't relate to COVID," Blunt said. "We're not close on their views of helping the state and local governments, but that's the kind of thing that I think there's some negotiating space on."

House Democrats included more than $900 billion in direct aid to states and localities in their bill that passed in May; Senate Republicans didn't include any additional funds, arguing only a portion of the initial $150 billion appropriated in late March has been spent.


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