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McConnell: COVID Stimulus Top Priority in Lame Duck

Now that the Senate election is decided, inaction may dissipate

On Wednesday, after largely remaining on the sidelines during recent COVID-19 stimulus negotiations, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said an economic stimulus bill will be the Senate’s top priority when it returns to Washington next week.

Before the elections, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said there are “multiple items of critical importance” to be resolved if there is to be any COVID-19 stimulus deal in the lame duck session. Pelosi has been negotiating primarily with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on a new pandemic relief package and both parties had at times sounded optimistic about their progress. That positivity disappeared last week as Senate Republicans voiced no support for a large deal and President Donald Trump vacillated on what he would back.

On Wednesday, however, McConnell said he supports a deal and that aid for state and local governments – a major stumbling block in the negotiations to date – could be included.

“We need another rescue package,” McConnell told reporters. “The Senate goes back into session next Monday. 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 did not say how large a package he would support or how to resolve remaining differences with Democrats over school funding, child-care money, tax credits for working families, unemployment benefits and liability protections for businesses. But, he said, “I think now that the election’s over the need is there and we need to sit down and work this out. And state and local could end up being a part of it. I’d like to see it done a little more skillfully than simply providing borrowed money for everyone regardless of their need.”

Expanding and refunding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is one of the least controversial items on the negotiating table and ASAE will continue to push hard for PPP expansion to include 501(c)(6) associations. The PPP, which has provided forgivable loans to small businesses (but not associations), has been expired since August. With the election over, it’s possible that pandemic-related aid will be a stand-alone bill or added to a government spending bill that Congress must pass before current stopgap funds expire on Dec. 11.

This article was provided to OSAE by ASAE's Power of A and Inroads.

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