Mitch McConnell faces backlash from fellow Republicans after unveiling coronavirus relief proposal

Katie Ramirez
July 29, 2020

Senate Republicans on Tuesday continued to distance themselves from a proposal to fund the construction of a new Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters in their $1 trillion coronavirus relief package, an unrelated provision pushed by President Donald Trump and criticized by Democrats, who claim the effort is aimed at protecting the president's financial interests.

Between the lines: McConnell, as well as other top GOP senators, made clear Tuesday that now that their draft bill is out, it's up to Meadows and Mnuchin - not GOP leadership - to negotiate with Democrats.

Striking any agreement with Congress by Friday's deadline for expiring aid will be daunting.

Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, declared Tuesday "there are a hundred problems with the plan".

"He has all the Democrats on his side", Paul said.

But McConnell acknowledged the limits with Republicans split: "We've done the best we can". Many said they find the process confusing, messy and not reflective of the Republican conference.

The Republicans' legislation would extend some pandemic benefits, including launching another round of the one-time $1,200 stimulus payment.

Asked how much the administration would insist it remain in the relief bill, Meadows said, "I don't see it standing in the way of a deal". The President described a brand new building with a running track on the roof "because Federal Bureau of Investigation people like to work out a lot", all along maintaining that "there's nothing better" than where the facility is now located. The HEALS Act and the Democrat-backed HEROES Act propose $1,200 stimulus checks.

With the virus death toll climbing and 4.2 million infections nationwide, both parties are eager for relief.

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For school reopenings, Democrats want four times the $105 billion that Republicans propose.

It also appears that fewer immigrants would receive checks under the Republicans' bill versus the Democrats' bill, since the latter proposes sending money to people who have a "taxpayer identification number" - a number used by immigrants to pay taxes - rather than a Social Security number.

The bill fails to mandate an emergency workplace health and safety standard to protect workers from the virus.

The second round of stimulus checks is likely coming, and the checks are expected to be $1,200.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said HEALS falls short of what needs to be done to help get families through the coronavirus recession.

"It just doesn't work and it certainly fails places that have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus like New York City", he said, adding that President Donald Trump has been silent about it.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.): "It's a mess".

Last Thursday, a reporter asked Trump during a press briefing whether a report from The Post that a line item for a new Federal Bureau of Investigation building was one of the things holding up the bill. "Millions are still out of work through no fault of their own and Senate Republicans want to slash unemployment?"

Republicans want to reduce the weekly federal unemployment payment from $600 to $200 through September when a combined federal and state benefit would focus on replacing 70 percent of previous wages.

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