Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Congress will decide whether to pass another COVID-19 relief package soon.
“We’re taking a careful look at a fourth and final bill,” the Kentucky Republican said on Friday (May 29), CNBC reported. “You could anticipate the decision being made on whether to go forward in about a month. And it will be narrowly crafted, designed to help us where we are a month from now, not where we were three months ago.”
Lawmakers are divided over how to help fix the economic and healthcare crisis created by the pandemic.
Last week, 2.1 million Americans filed for jobless benefits, bringing the total number seeking unemployment insurance to more than 40 million since the coronavirus emerged in the U.S. in mid-March.
At the same time, cash-strapped state and local governments say they are facing budget shortfalls, the network reported.
Earlier this month, House Democrats passed a $3 trillion stimulus bill that offered a mix of remedies including a second stimulus payment to Americans, hazard pay for front line workers and more money for coronavirus testing.
But McConnell and even some Senate Democrats oppose the measure saying it’s too broad and should be targeted to those who really need it.
McConnell has said the country needs to “pause” to study the impact of the original $2.2 trillion CARES Act package before another major bill is enacted.
But Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi disagreed. “We need a pause? Tell that to the virus,” she told reporters on Thursday (May 28). “Is the virus taking a pause? Is hunger in America taking a pause?”
On Friday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, urged the GOP Senate to “join Democrats at the negotiating table, immediately” for a measure to address the pandemic when it returns next week, CNBC reported.
McConnell, who has opposed efforts to send more relief to states and municipalities, said he would consider giving them more funding. He added there may be additional assistance needed for small businesses, for healthcare.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, as of Friday there have been 102,516 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19. New York has topped the list with 29,605 fatalities, followed by New Jersey with 11,531 deaths while Massachusetts is third with 5,464 dead.