Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday continued to reject the call from Democrats for a big coronavirus stimulus package, saying, “that’s not a place I think we’re willing to go” and reiterated his push for a bill that’s “highly targeted at what the residual problems are.”
McConnell said of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer, “I gather she and the Democratic leader in the Senate still are looking at something dramatically larger. That’s not a place I think we’re willing to go.”
Pelosi and Schumer signaled during a news conference earlier on Thursday they’re not willing to change their call for a large coronavirus package even as efforts to negotiate remain stalled. The Democratic leaders instead argued that the result of the presidential election was a mandate for Joe Biden, which in turn strengthens their position in an effort to get a Covid package in the lame duck session.
“This election was maybe more a referendum on who can handle Covid well than anything else,” Schumer said. “The Donald Trump approach was repudiated. The Joe Biden approach was embraced and that’s why we think there’s a better chance to get a bill in the lame duck, if only the Republicans would stop embracing the ridiculous shenanigans that Trump is forcing them to do in the election and focus on what people need.”
“We’re at the same place, even more so with the pandemic,” Pelosi said in response to a question if her position on a stimulus has changed from before the election.
Pelosi said the priority must be addressing the pandemic, and called on Republicans to “stop this circus and get to work on what really matters to the American people – their health and their economic security.”
The criticism from Democrats comes as efforts to negotiate a new relief bill remain stuck as Democrats call for a large-scale, comprehensive approach to a new stimulus with Republicans calling for a targeted approach.
McConnell signaled, however, that he does think there needs to be another relief package.
“I do think there needs to another package,” he told reporters at the Capitol. “Hopefully we can get past the impasse we’ve had now for four or five months, and get serious about doing something that’s appropriate.”
Earlier in the week, McConnell again indicated that Republicans and Democrats remain far apart on a potential new coronavirus stimulus package, saying on Tuesday, “I don’t think the current situation demands a multi-trillion dollar package” and “it seems to me that snag that hung us up for months is still there.”
CNN’s Sarah Fortinsky and Kristin Wilson contributed to this report.