The division among Senate Republicans on the next stimulus package is so deep that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he believes up to a third of all Republican senators would not vote for any new coronavirus relief packages. McConnell introduced his next stimulus plan, the HEALS Act, on Monday, but negotiations have stalled. The HEALS Act does include another $1,200 stimulus check, similar to the economic impact payment included in the CARES Act.
"I think there are 15-20 of my guys that are not going to vote for anything... It's a statement of the obvious that we will not have everybody on our side," McConnell said in a Friday interview with Kentucky radio station WHAS, reports The Hill. McConnell said Congressional Democrats and President Donald Trump's administration are "light-years apart" in the negotiations. He said the talks are "going to be tough" and "there's not much movement" at the moment.
Republicans only have a three-person majority in the Senate, so McConnell would need some Democratic support for the bill to pass. McConnell would need at least 27 Democrats to vote for the bill to get the 60 votes needed. He also needs the support of House Democrats, who passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act stimulus package in May, before it can go to Trump's desk.
The HEALS Act would be the fifth overall stimulus package. The first four totaled almost $3 trillion combined. McConnell said he could understand why some of his Republican colleagues do not want to pass another bill. "Their argument's not irrational," he said. "They don't think we ought to pass another one of these bills. I don't agree with that."
Sen. Lindsey Graham told Fox News earlier this week he believes "half of Republicans" will vote against passing any more aid. "That's just a fact," he added, reports Forbes. Other fiscal conservatives blasted the bill. Sen. Ted Cruz called it a "mistake," reports CNN. "I think we should be focused on reopening the economy not simply shoveling trillions of dollars out of Washington. I think this bill is the wrong approach," the Texas Republican added.
Several Republicans, including McConnell himself, were frustrated by $1.75 billion earmarked for a new FBI building, included at the White House's request. "Let me speak for myself, I am opposed to non-germane amendments, whether it's funding for the FBI building or for example whether in the House bill it's a tax cut for high-income earners in blue states or other non-germane amendments in the House bill like marijuana studies or aid to illegal immigrants," McConnell said Monday.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the HEALS Act a "train wreck" and noted the divisions in the Republican party on their own bill. "Two senior Republican Senators have said that the Republican proposal would be lucky to get even half of the Republican conference to vote for it," the New York Democrat said in the Senate Wednesday. "Leader McConnell warned Democrats against blocking the Republican proposal. It turns out that Senate Republicans are blocking the Republican proposal."