Republicans throw cold water on bipartisan Covid proposal

Republicans throw cold water on bipartisan Covid proposal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s staff told other congressional leaders on Wednesday that the bipartisan coronavirus negotiators will be unlikely to satisfy Senate Republicans, according to a senior Democrat familiar with the conversations.

McConnell’s staff informed House and Senate leadership staffers that the group’s attempts to marry $160 billion in state and local aid and a temporary liability shield probably won’t fly with most of the GOP, the Democrat said. Those two issues have become the primary focus for a bipartisan group of lawmakers that is trying to hammer out a $908 billion compromise.

But efforts to cut a deal on a liability shield have proved elusive as Democrats resist GOP offers, while many Republicans are rejecting the idea of sending money to the states that Democrats deem a must-have. And the GOP leadership’s dour opinion of the talks amounts to another blow for the bipartisan group.

McConnell has publicly suggested dropping local aid and the liability shield from negotiations to focus on health care and other less controversial issues, but Democrats want the group of centrists to continue negotiating to see if they can produce a result. Congress is about to fund the government through Dec. 18, buying them another week of time to talk about the coronavirus aid package.

Both McConnell and Speaker Nancy Pelosi want to pair coronavirus relief with the annual spending bill.

McConnell’s office declined to comment.

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