Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday shut down House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to move ahead with a fourth stimulus package because it would include major infrastructure spending and other Democratic priorities.
“I think we need to wait a few days here, a few weeks, and see how things are working out,” McConnell said on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.”
“Let’s see how things are going and respond accordingly,” he added. “I’m not going to allow this to be an opportunity for the Democrats to achieve unrelated policy items that they would not otherwise be able to pass.”
McConnell’s remarks came the same day that President Trump encouraged Congress to pass a $2 trillion infrastructure bill as the next piece of coronavirus legislation.
“With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill,” Trump tweeted.
With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill. It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 31, 2020
Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday told reporters in a conference call that she is already looking a new round of coronavirus relief legislation and that it would likely include infrastructure component.
“There are infrastructure needs that our country has that directly relate to how we are proceeding with the coronavirus,” Pelosi told reporters. “And we would like to see in what comes next something that has always been nonpartisan, bipartisan, and that is an infrastructure piece that takes us into the future.”
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) on the same call argued that infrastructure projects like expanded broadband access could help fight the pandemic.
“If you don’t have access to the internet, you can’t do telemedicine and you can’t learn when you’re not going to school in person,” he said.
But McConnell on Tuesday noted that the Senate and House are not expected to return to work in Washington until April 20 at the earliest.
“First, we need to see what the effect of the current bill is. The Treasury, of course, is wrestling with all this complicated effort to speed checks to individuals and small businesses to get us through this period until the health care pandemic begins to subside,” he said.
The GOP leader said the Senate will resume confirming Trump’s judicial nominees when it reconvenes later next month. Confirming federal judges was McConnell’s top priority on the Senate floor before it was interrupted by Trump’s impeachment trial and debate on coronavirus legislation.
“We will go back to judges,” he said. “My motto for the rest of the year is leave no vacancy behind.”