Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday threw some cold water on hopes that a coronavirus stimulus bill may get done in the near future with comments that indicated the price tag Democrats are demanding for the legislation is still too high for Senate Republicans.
There had been speculation that after the presidential election some of the political pressure would lift off of both sides and lead to compromise. Democrats in the weeks before the election were asking for about $1 trillion more than Senate Republicans were willing to spend. And when Republicans attempted to advance smaller, sub-$1 trillion stimulus bills in the Senate, Democrats would filibuster.
That situation, according to McConnell, R-Ky., does not appear to have changed.
"My view is the level at which the economy is improving further underscores that we need to do something at about the amount that we put on the floor in September and October. Highly targeted at what the residual problems are," McConnell said Thursday. "I gather [Pelosi] 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."
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., slammed Republicans Thursday for entertaining President Trump's legal challenges to the election results and pushed for ambitious coronavirus relief.
"More than 10 million Americans infected and more than 240,000 Americans have died. More than 20 million Americans are on unemployment. America has 1 million fewer teachers than a year ago. That's why we keep saying honor our heroes," Pelosi said.
"This is a red alert, an all-hands-on-deck, and it should have been a long time ago," she said. "The president and the Republicans in Congress have ignored by delay, distortion, denial… And what are they doing now, continuing to ignore in spite of these numbers, that should be so compelling, that are an imperative for us to act upon this."
The Thursday comments come after the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that McConnell would assume a larger role in the stimulus negotiations after months of negotiations between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Pelosi didn't produce anything that the Senate GOP was willing to vote for.
Republicans have said that their bill includes benefits for Americans who need it and boosts vaccine efforts and attempts to open schools, and that the Democrats' proposal includes too many extras that aren't related to the virus. Democrats, meanwhile, have accused Republicans of downplaying the crisis and underestimating how much the government needs to do as cases and death counts continue to rise.
The GOP, however, still maintains it would like to do something, and McConnell said earlier this week he would like a bill passed before the end of the year.
"I do think there needs to be another package," the majority leader said Thursday. "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."
Fox News' Jason Donner contributed to this report.