As Republicans and Democrats continue to haggle over the price tag and the components of the next coronavirus relief bill, Marco Rubio, the Republican senator representing Florida, has said he is willing to compromise for a bigger bill.
On Thursday, October 22, Rubio told CNBC, “In the end, I think we run the risk here of structural damage to components of our economy if we don’t do something.”
Democrats passed the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act in May and Republicans passed the $1.3 trillion HEALS Act later in the same month. Since then, Republicans moved their estimate up by $600 billion in a $1.6 trillion offer proposed by Republicans, while Pelosi and the Democrats recently passed an updated $2.2 trillion version of the HEROES Act.
The Democrat-controlled House has repeatedly refused to vote in support of the Republicans’ $500 billion-$1.2 trillion piece-meal approaches to coronavirus relief while the Republican-controlled Senate has refused to pass the Democrats’ more expensive coronavirus-relief-related legislative acts for months. More recently, a $1.8 trillion proposal made by Trump encountered resistance from Republicans who thought the bill was too expensive and Democrats who thought the bill didn’t cover enough.
Rubio Told CNBC That He Supports a More Expensive Bill
Rubio told CNBC that he would be willing to support a more expensive coronavirus relief bill if that meant a deal would get done. On the show “Squawk Box,” Rubio said the following:
No one is going to get everything they want here, and from my perspective, that means the bill on this is probably going to be higher than I want it to be and I’m very uncomfortable with that. I think the price of not doing something is even higher. So as long as it’s limited in some way, as long as it’s not crazy, yes I’m willing to be flexible about it because I think it’s that important.
Rubio went on to admit that his Republican colleagues would likely not vote for a bill of $1.6 trillion or more but said he was not like them. “I’m willing to vote for things I’m not in favor of in order to pass the things I think are essential and important for our country, within reason,” Rubio said.
Rubio chairs the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. He told CNBC that he was concerned about cities and counties running out of money and more small businesses losing income. However, he also said that he thinks a deal will get done. “I have more optimism that we’re going to have a deal on stimulus. I don’t know if it will be before the election just simply because of the calendar and some of the time constraints we face.”
Florida Has Struggled to Keep the Virus Under Control
Florida’s coronavirus deaths totaled a little over 16,000, according to the Orlando Sentinel, with the state facing a total of 760,389 people infected with coronavirus since the pandemic began and 47,628 being hospitalized.
South Florida has been hit particularly hard, the Orlando Sentinel reported, accounting for 41% of the state’s total deaths.
Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has faced both adoration and intense dislike from voters based on his handling of the coronavirus. Hecklers at a press briefing shouted “Shame on you,” in July, Politico reported, while thousands also turned out for an October 23 Trump rally where DeSantis was also speaking; according to a tweet from CNN’s Jim Acosta, few ralliers were wearing masks.
In September, the Associated Press reported that more than 2.5 million Floridians had attempted to get unemployment benefits and the Tampa Bay Times noted that although the unemployment rate had steadily declined, other important economic indicators — layoffs and mortgage delinquency rates — remained troubling; the Times described the state’s economic recovery as partial.
On Thursday, Rubio, according to Florida Daily, unveiled the “Small Business Access to Recovery Capital Act,” which would provide more loans to businesses financially hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.
Republicans Have Grown Frustrated With Mnuchin as Stimulus Negotiations Continue, According to The Washington Post
The main two negotiators of a stimulus package, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, have expressed optimism on being close to a deal, even though they have been in a stalemate for more than four months. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to The Washington Post, has said that he does not want Republican senators to vote on a deal before the election.
In response, The Post reported that Trump said McConnell will go along with a deal if Trump is behind it. “He’ll be on board if something comes. … Not every Republican agrees with me, but they will,” Trump said.
Republican senators, however, have also struggled within their own ranks with the concessions being made by Mnuchin, according to reporting from The Post. The Post cited two unnamed Republican aides who were irritated with Mnuchin because they believed he had given in to too many of Pelosi’s demands.
“He negotiates harder with his own side than he does with her. Folks over here are sick of it,” one Senate Republican aide said, describing Republicans as “reaching a boiling point with him.” The Post reported that another Republican aide said, “Fair to say the feeling is he’s giving away the store. No one is surprised but yes frustrated. The idea that our conference is going to go along with whatever bad deal he cuts with Pelosi is completely unrealistic.”