Senate leader McConnell says wants coronavirus aid bill by year’s end

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) holds a post election news conference as he declares victory, in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., November 3, 2020. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday said Congress needed to approve a new coronavirus aid bill by the end of 2020 as lawmakers return to work following Tuesday’s elections.

Saying he hoped that partisanship over such a stimulus bill will subside with voting for president and members of Congress over, McConnell said there was a “need to do it by the end of the year.” He also noted the “possibility” that such a bill “will do more for state and local governments,” a key Democratic demand.

On Oct. 30, McConnell said in an interview with conservative radio show host Hugh Hewitt that such an aid bill should be done at the beginning of 2021. McConnell, the top Republican in Congress, did not say why he was now accelerating that timetable.

“I think that’s job-one when we get back, hopefully with a more cooperative situation than we had,” before the election, McConnell said.

He added that another top priority of Congress’ work session that begins next week and could extend well into December is passage of legislation to fund government functions beyond Dec. 11, when existing money expires.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi is seeking a comprehensive coronavirus aid bill of at least $2.2 trillion. But the Senate’s Republican majority balked and before the election that chamber did not even pass a pared-down $500 billion measure.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)

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