Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator is suggesting there may be a fifth coronavirus relief bill, but it won’t happen anytime soon. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate is in wait-and-see mode as it reviews the approximately $3 trillion already spent by Congress.That bill, known as the CARES Act, has had an $11 billion impact on the commonwealth, including 45,000 loans under the Payroll Protection Program.
The forgivable loans were designed for small businesses that committed to maintaining a certain level of employment.
Speaking in Warren County on Wednesday, McConnell said Congress can’t borrow enough money to prop up the country indefinitely.
"Let’s wait a few weeks here and see what kind of impact opening up the economy is having to begin to restore our country, before throwing additional money onto the national debt," the Louisville Republican said.
McConnell said the national debt is now the size of the U.S. economy, which hasn’t been the case since World War II.
The Republican leader said a Democratic "grab bag" that passed the House last week has no chance of passing in the Senate. That legislation would have given more aid to state and local governments, extended unemployment insurance, and funded another round of stimulus checks to individuals.
McConnell said any new legislation will be more narrowly crafted to include liability protections for employers facing lawsuits from reopening, and to correct what he described as the mistakes of previous coronavirus relief bills.
He said expanding unemployment benefits by $600 has been counter-productive by paying some jobless Americans more to stay home than return to work. McConnell added the enhanced unemployment won’t likely continue past its July expiration.
Following questions from reporters, McConnell said the next bill would likely not include funding for state and local governments on top of the $150 billion already allotted. Kentucky received $1.8 billion, but Louisville was the only city large enough to get money directly, receiving $133 million. The rest was distributed to local governments by Gov. Andy Beshear.