Mitch McConnell just threw cold water on the immediate prospect of further coronavirus aid, citing 'extraordinary' national debt

REUTERS/Jonathan ErnstUS Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talks to reporters after the Senate voted to acquit U.S. President Trump of both charges in his Senate impeachment trial in Washington, U.S., February 5, 2020.
  • McConnell said there would not be another coronavirus relief bill in the near future, citing the national debt as “a matter of genuine concern.”
  • “You’ve seen the talk from both sides about acting, but my goal from the beginning of this, given the extraordinary numbers that we’re racking up to the national debt, is that we need to be as cautious as we can be,” he said.
  • Republicans and Democrats, though, say more aid is immediate needed to deal with the extraordinary public health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hit the brakes on the prospect of another immediate round of federal coronavirus relief late on Tuesday, citing the mounting national debt.

On the same day the Senate approved another $US480 billion of spending to aid small businesses and hospitals, the Republican senator from Kentucky said the $US24 trillion debt was “a matter of genuine concern.”

He’s seeking to push back negotiations on another large relief bill until the Senate was back in session on May 4.

In another interview with Politico, McConnell said the Senate would move “cautiously” in negotiating another round of coronavirus aid.

“You’ve seen the talk from both sides about acting, but my goal from the beginning of this, given the extraordinary numbers that we’re racking up to the national debt, is that we need to be as cautious as we can be,” he said.


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He went on: “We need to see how things are working, see what needs to be corrected, and I do think that the next time we pass a coronavirus rescue bill we need to have everyone here and everyone engaged.”

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, though, increasingly argue coronavirus relief should be an urgent priority for Congress. They’re weighing another massive round of spending that could easily top $US1 trillion.

“We’ve got to get through this stimulus, and then it’s on to the next stimulus,” Larry Kudlow, the chairman of the National Economic Council, told reporters.

Emergency federal spending has topped over $US2.3 trillion so far, according to projections from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

The lion’s share was a product of the CARES Act approved by President Trump last month. It provided urgent relief through a blend of $US1,200 stimulus checks, grants, and emergency federal loans designed to help stave off a collapse of the economy.


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Throughout the tenure of President Obama, Republicans had argued it was critical to curtail the level of federal spending to safeguard the nation’s economy and pushed for drastic reductions. But those efforts largely faded when Trump took office and pushed for tax cuts on corporations that exploded the federal deficit.

Many economists, though, point to low interest rates and say any alarm about the perils of further borrowing should be swept aside to deal with the extraordinary economic crisis that has caused 22 million Americans to file for unemployment in the past four weeks.

“We want massive, debt-financed disaster relief while the economy is in its medically induced coma,” Nobel laureate Paul Krugman said in a Twitter thread last month.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also made a similar argument.

“Interest rates are incredibly low, so there’s very little cost of borrowing this money,” Mnuchin told reporters in March. “In different times, we’ll fix the deficit. This is not the time to worry about it.”

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