Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled a willingness to allow the Senate to consider a stimulus deal struck between the Trump administration and the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, potentially increasing the odds of renewed stimulus funding in the near term.
At a press conference on Tuesday, McConnell told reporters that the Senate would bring a bill passed by the House, and supported by President Trump, to the floor “at some point,” though he did not specify how soon after passage that might be.
McConnell stopped short of saying he would personally back the bill, let alone whip enough GOP senators to avoid a filibuster, stating “we would have to see what it was first… if a deal is announced, it would have to be written and people would have to take a look at it.”
Despite advocating a $500 billion “skinny” stimulus bill – not including stimulus checks – that is slated to be voted on by the Senate Wednesday, McConnell did not repeat his rejection of the $1.8 trillion to $2.2 trillion price tag called for by Democrats and Trump.
“If such a deal were to clear the house, obviously with a presidential signature or promise, we would put it on the floor of the Senate and let the Senate consider it,” McConnell said in response to questions about cost.
The comments come as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is “optimistic” about a deal with the White House after eleventh-hour negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, even as key sticking points remain on state and local aid and business liability protections.
The comments from McConnell come at the tail end of a battle to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s nominee to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Even as recent polls show Barrett’s confirmation narrowly favored, other data has found that voters overwhelmingly want the Senate to focus their attention on stimulus rather than the Supreme Court.
“It’s very simple, I want to do it even bigger than the Democrats. Not every Republican agrees with me, but they will. They’ll be on board if something comes,.” Trump said during a Fox and Friends appearance on Tuesday, despite his aides pushing for $1.8 trillion to Pelosi’s $2.2 trillion. “I’d take all the votes you could get, whether it’s Democrat or Republican.”
“A massive bill is a base killer. I don’t think it’s politically smart to be doing this for people that supported Donald Trump and a Republican Senate,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) told the Wall Street Journal Friday. “At some point in time, people will wonder: why are we voting for Republicans… Or why vote at all?”