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Sen. McConnell vows Congress will not 'leave town' until COVID-19 relief is settled

Mitch McConnell, John Barrasso
Posted at 11:32 AM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 11:39:05-05

WASHINGTON (LEX 18) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that he and Congressional leaders will not leave Washington for the holiday until a COVID-19 relief bill is passed.

"The Democratic Leader and I worked into the evening alongside the Speaker of the House and the House Republican Leader," McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday. "We made major headway toward hammering out a targeted pandemic relief package that would be able to pass both chambers with bipartisan majorities."

The Senate majority leader said money is needed not only for the American people suffering from the economic fallout caused by the pandemic but to help re-up the Payment Protection Program and for vaccine distribution.

"Congressional leaders on both sides are going to keep working until we get it done," McConnell said.

Congress easily passed a one-week government-wide funding bill last week that set a new Dec. 18 deadline to wrap up both the COVID-19 relief measure and a $1.4 trillion catchall spending bill that is also overdue.

Top GOP leaders said the right people to handle endgame negotiations are the top four leaders of Congress and the Trump administration, focused on a proposal by McConnell to eliminate a Democratic demand for a $160 billion or so aid package for state and local governments.

Top Democrats. meanwhile, are placing their bets on a bipartisan group of senators who are trying to iron out a $908 billion package. The bipartisan group is getting no encouragement from McConnell, but members are claiming progress on perhaps the most contentious item, a demand by the Kentucky Republican to award businesses and other organizations protections against COVID-related lawsuits.