Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday that a coronavirus relief package should be passed before year's end. He suggested aid for state and local governments, a big Democratic priority, could form part of the plan as well.
"We need another rescue package. The Senate goes back into session next Monday," he said during an event in Kentucky. "Hopefully the partisan passions that prevented us from doing another rescue package will subside with the election. And I think we need to do it and I think we need to do it before the end of the year."
McConnell was re-elected to another six-year term for the Senate on Tuesday, handily beating Democratic challenger Amy McGrath. Senate Republicans could hang onto their slim majority in the chamber, though a handful of key races are still processing final results. He said it was unclear whether Republicans would maintain Senate control.
The Kentucky senator also said "it's a possibility we will do more for state and local governments" in another stimulus package. Democrats have long pressed for hundreds of billions in aid to state and local governments grappling with large budget shortfalls.
Up to now, McConnell hasn't played a significant role in the discussions over the next stimulus package. His remarks could help restart the process, which has crawled along with scarce progress for over a month.
"We need to sit down and talk to each other like we did back in March and April and address the problem and I'm confident we will no matter who ends up running the government... it's time to overcome all that and get results," McConnell said.
The senate majority leader previously said Republicans should pass another stimulus package early next year in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. McConnell's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the shift in timeline.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans twice introduced a $500 billion spending package which Democrats ultimately blocked. It included aid for small businesses and federal unemployment benefits. But the measure omitted $1,200 stimulus checks and aid for states, both Democratic priorities.
Most of the negotiations so far have been between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The talks stalled after the pair publicly sparred through letters last week. Pelosi's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Congress faces a December 11 deadline to pass a spending bill to fund government operations and avert a shutdown.
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