MITCH McConnell has said Congress "can't leave" for Christmas break without a coronavirus bill as he asks Democrats to drop their stimulus demands.
The top senator suggested on Tuesday that congressional negotiators should drop the two most controversial stimulus demands, so that Democrats and Republicans can work through the features they both agree on.
"What I recommend is we set aside liability and set aside state and local and pass those things that we can agree on, knowing full well we'll be back at this after the first of the year," McConnell told reporters this week.
"We can't leave without doing a Covid bill – the country needs it."
Republicans have repeatedly rejected Democrats' demands for $150billion in funding for state and local governments.
Democrats on the other hand have equally been opposing to Republicans request for a sweeping liability ban.
In response to McConnell's remarks, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the state and local funding provisions "have broad bipartisan support," as opposed to the liability proposal.
“The state and local funding provided by the state and local funding provisions have broad bipartisan support. Unlike the extreme corporate liability proposal," Schumer said.
Lawmakers have been in a stalemate for months over the appropriate size for any follow-up to the $2.2trillion Cares Act passed in March.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump's administration offered a $916billion stimulus package that would send eligible Americans a $600 stimulus check, but would eliminate the $300-a-week unemployment benefits.
Treasure Secretary Steve Mnuchin made the offer to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi late Tuesday afternoon.
"Speaker Pelosi and I spoke today at 5 p.m., and on behalf of the President, I presented a $916 billion proposal," Mnuchin said in a statement.
"This proposal includes money for state and local governments and robust liability protections for businesses, schools and universities."
However, the California Democrat quickly blasted the proposal, calling it "unacceptable."
"While it is progress that Leader [Mitch] McConnell has signed off on a $916 billion offer based on the bipartisan framework, the President' proposal, which cuts unemployment insurance by $140 billion compared to the framework, is unacceptable," she tweeted.
"The President’s proposal must not be allowed to obstruct the bipartisan Congressional talks that are underway. The bipartisan talks are the best hope for a bipartisan solution."
According to Mnuchin, the offer was a joint proposal supported by McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who both called it "a great offer."
In a joint statement, Pelosi and Schumer marked the proposal as "progress" because it brought McConnell closer to the $908billion bipartisan framework unveiled last week.
However, both Pelosi and Schumer called the cut to unemployment benefits "unacceptable."
"Members of the House and Senate have been engaged in good-faith negotiations and continue to make progress. The bipartisan talks are the best hope for a bipartisan solution," they said.
"The President's proposal starts by cutting the unemployment insurance proposal being discussed by bipartisan Members of the House and Senate from $180 billion to $40 billion. That is unacceptable."
When discussing the bipartisan bill on Fox News on Sunday, Senator Bill Cassidy, a member of the group working on it, said any second stimulus check would be "part of a different piece of legislation".
"This is not a stimulus bill. It is a relief bill," he said.
"And it is something for the next three or four months to help those in greatest need."
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