Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says he will not be forging ahead with plans to introduce a fourth coronavirus stimulus package in the Senate, even if Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has one prepared when Congress returns from recess at the end of April.
Pelosi noted Tuesday that she and others in the House are already crafting a fourth relief bill designed, she said, to address “recovery” efforts as opposed to “relief” efforts. Her draft reporteldy includes an increase in the SALT tax cap, which would allow those who make more than $100,000 per year to deduct more of their state and local income taxes from their federal income taxes, and a $2 trillion “infrastructure” bill — something President Donald Trump said he also supports.
“I think we come back April 20, God willing and coronavirus willing, but shortly thereafter we should be able to move forward,” Pelosi said Wendesday, according to CNBC, when asked about her coronavirus relief plan.
But unlike his colleague in the White House, McConnell says he is skeptical of a Democrat plan for infrastructure spending and that he will exercise caution when reviewing the House proposal, even if the White House signs off.
“I think we need to wait a few days here, a few weeks, and see how things are working out,” McConnell told radio host Hugh Hewitt, per The Hill.
“Let’s see how things are going and respond accordingly,” he continued. “I’m not going to allow this to be an opportunity for the Democrats to achieve unrelated policy items that they would not otherwise be able to pass.”
McConnell has a right to worry. In their version of the third coronavirus relief package, Pelosi’s House coalition tried to derail the Senate’s bipartisan relief package with a bill of their own, packed with handouts to the United States Postal Service, elements of the Green New Deal, and an elections overhaul plan that would have seen vast swaths of the country voting by mail.
Per the CNBC report from Wednesday morning, the vote-by-mail proposal will, in fact, reappear in Pelosi’s next bill.
“In terms of the elections, I think we’ll probably be moving to vote by mail,” Pelosi told MSNBC. “That’s why we wanted to have more resources in this third bill that just was signed by the president, to get those resources to the states to facilitate the reality of life: that we are going to have to have more vote by mail.”
A draft “infrastructure plan” is also already on the table. That proposal, Democrats “say will help the U.S. recover from the pandemic’s destruction. The plan, based on a five-year, $760 billion framework unveiled in January, includes money for community health centers, improvements to drinking water systems, expanded access to broadband and upgrades to roads, bridges, railroads and public transit agencies.”
McConnell is taking a wait-and-see approach and wants to give the Treasury department space to fulfill promises made in the third bill before burdening the federal government with another relief effort.
“First, we need to see what the effect of the current bill is,” he said. “The Treasury, of course, is wrestling with all this complicated effort to speed checks to individuals and small businesses to get us through this period until the health care pandemic begins to subside.”
His plan, when the Senate returns from recess, is to go back to business at hand.
“We will go back to judges,” McConnell told Hewitt. “My motto for the rest of the year is leave no vacancy behind.”