Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is backing the White House’s call to repurpose unused Federal Reserve relief funds for a targeted coronavirus stimulus package.
McConnell discussed the strategy with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday, November 20, according to Stars and Stripes. The Senate majority leader announced later that day his support for Mnuchin’s proposal to repurpose leftover funds allocated for Federal Reserve loan guarantees, small business aid and other pandemic relief programs.
“Congress should repurpose this money toward the kinds of urgent, important and targeted relief measures that Republicans have been trying to pass for months, but which Democrats have repeatedly blocked with all-or-nothing demands,” McConnell said in the online press release.
Stars and Stripes reported that $580 billion funds currently remain unused.
The Federal Reserve has since declared it would “comply” with Mnuchin’s request to “return the unused funds that were meant to backstop five emergency lending programs that are expiring,” the outlet continued.
Relief talks have yet again reached an impasse as lawmakers continue to argue over the overall cost of the next bill. Democrats are seeking substantial state and local government funding, while Republicans are pushing for employer liability shields, according to a late-October story in the Chicago Tribune.
Here’s what you need to know:
McConnell Recently Agreed to Resume Negotiations With Democrats After a Falling out Following the Election
On November 17, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked McConnell to revive stimulus negotiations and meet them “at the table.” The pair emphasized in a joint letter the need for Congress to “act immediately,” citing the country’s climbing COVID-19 cases and devastating economic turmoil.
Two days later, on November 19, Schumer announced that the Kentucky Republican had agreed to resume talks, according to CNBC.
“Last night, they’ve agreed to sit down and the staffs are going to sit down today or tomorrow to try to begin to see if we can get a real good Covid relief bill,” the minority leader said during a news conference, the outlet reported. “So there’s been a little bit of a breakthrough in that McConnell’s folks are finally sitting down and talking to us.”
The White House and Pelosi had been discussing a package between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion, but the talks fell apart leading up to the November 3 election, Business Insider reported. McConnell has since heading up an effort for a smaller, Senate-backed stimulus proposal, the outlet continued.
Democrats Immediately Opposed Mnuchin & McConnell’s Request to Repurpose Funds
Top Democrats harshly opposed McConnell and Mnuchin’s stimulus sentiments on Friday, November 20.
While president-elect Joe Biden’s transition team described the strategy as “deeply irresponsible,” Pelosi criticized Mnuchin of trying to “hobble the incoming administration,” Stars and Stripes reported.
Meanwhile, Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Pelosi and Schumer issued a joint statement doubling down on their calls for a broad-based package.
The group emphasized the need for substantial state and local government funding, enhanced federal unemployment benefits and healthcare aid, according to a press release on Pelosi’s website.
“They agreed that Congress needed to pass a bipartisan emergency aid package in the lame duck session, and that package should include resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, relief for working families and small businesses, support for state and local governments trying to keep frontline workers on the payroll, expanded Unemployment Insurance, and affordable health care for millions of families,” the release said.