Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell criticized the COVID-19 stimulus bill on Monday and said it contains measures that are not designed to tackle the pandemic.
McConnell tweeted about the $1.9 trillion package in what could be seen as a blow to efforts to win bipartisan support. President Joe Biden had previously expressed a hope that Republicans would come on board.
“The partisan bill Democrats are preparing is stuffed with non-COVID-related liberal goals and more band-aid policies as if the country were going to stay shut down another year,” McConnell wrote.
“We need 2021 to be different than 2020. Congress should focus on smart policies to help that happen,” he said.
McConnell has previously outlined some aspects of the COVID-19 relief package that he objects to, while other Republicans have also joined in criticism of its provisions.
“Democrats’ so-called relief bill includes Sen. Sanders’s minimum wage proposal that would kill 1.4M American jobs,” McConnell said on February 8.
“This after the President killed many thousands of jobs with Keystone XL. Killing jobs and destroying opportunity—that’s their idea of pandemic relief?”
McConnell’s comments could indicate that Republican support for the bill will now be minimal. Democrats in the House of Representatives will advance the stimulus package through the budget reconciliation process this week and then it will progress to the Senate, where the party holds the slimmest of majorities. It’s not yet clear if Vice President Kamala Harris will have to cast her deciding vote on the bill.
“Our preference is to make this important work bipartisan, to include input, ideas, and revisions from our Republican colleagues,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on January 29.
“But if our Republican colleagues decide to oppose this urgent and necessary legislation, we will have to move forward without them,” he said.
Biden has said he wanted to work in a more bipartisan way during his term and specifically on the issue of COVID-19 stimulus. However, Anita Dunn, one of the president’s senior advisers, acknowledged earlier this month that could be a difficult prospect.
“While President Biden will continue to reach out to Republicans and Democrats on this emergency package, there is as much pressure on Republicans to work with the president as there is on President Biden to work with Republicans,” Dunn said.
“The voters the Republicans lost in ’18 and ’20—and who voted for Joe Biden—want to see their leaders working together to confront the emergency facing the country,” she said.