Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday seemed to change his stance regarding the need for an additional stimulus relief package amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Speaking at a news conference in Kentucky just a day after winning his reelection bid for a seventh six-year Senate term, the majority leader proclaimed that a new bill needs to happen "before the end of the year" and indicated that passing a bill would be the chamber's main priority upon their return to Capitol Hill on Monday.
During the conference, according to Forbes, McConnell told reporters that "we need another rescue package" and that "we need to do it before the end of the year." He added his hopes that "the partisan passions that prevented us from doing another rescue package will subside with the election."
His remarks marked a break from previous comments he has made regarding stimulus relief, with McConnell having reportedly warned the White House just last month against striking a deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Just last week, ahead of his re-election victory, he seemed to indicate that while he believed another package was necessary, it should wait until "the beginning of the year." McConnell, as well as other Republicans, have largely taken issue with the price tag of the package to come from a White House/Pelosi agreement, as it is believed to be in the ballpark of more than $2 trillion.
Despite those comments, lawmakers, in the days leading up to the election, had expressed hope that progress would be made in the lame-duck session, with one senior Senate GOP having told The Hill that "after the election and after McConnell is reelected as a leader," there would be "more opportunity." Speaking to the outlet, Senate lawmakers and aides also stated their belief that McConnell and Pelosi would "have a strong incentive" to approve a stimulus bill during the lame-duck session, as it will make it easier to put together a full-year annual appropriations package before Christmas.
According to McConnell's remarks last week, a new package should target "small businesses that are struggling, and hospitals that are now dealing with the second wave of the coronavirus, and of course the challenges for education, both K-12 and college." On Wednesday, he said that there is a "possibility" that the federal government will provide more aid to state and local governments, something he had previously been against.