McConnell: Unless the Economy Reopens, 'We Can't Spend Enough to Solve the Problem'

By Susan Jones | April 22, 2020 | 6:04am EDT
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at an April 21 news conference. (Photo: Screen capture)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at an April 21 news conference. (Photo: Screen capture)

( - "We have allocated a stunning amount of money" to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, and now it's time to pause and evaluate, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told a news conference on Tuesday.

Unless the economy reopens very soon, he said, "We can't spend enough to solve the problem."

McConnell spoke after the Senate passed yet another coronavirus relief package. The $484 billion includes support for small businesses and hospitals and money to expand coronavirus testing. The House is expected to pass the bill by unanimous consent on Thursday.

"And after one of these bipartisan agreements, there are always a lot of claims about who won and who lost, but I think the American people are the ones who won," McConnell said:

And I think it's also time to begin to think about the amount of debt that we are adding to our country and the future impact of that. And I think we also have seen, with this catastrophic damage to the economy, that until we can begin to open up the economy, we can't spend enough money to solve the problem.

And so I want to congratulate the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the governors who are beginning to plan towards reopening the economy. Unless we do that we can't--we can't spend enough to solve the problem.

McConnell noted that the $484 billion package passed on Tuesday follows the recent $2.2 trillion relief bill, which followed two other multi-billion dollar relief measures. That's enough, he said, until lawmakers return to Washington:

"I think we ought to be carefully calibrating as we move along here what is working, what isn't, and be a little more cautious and make sure everybody is here, the Senate and the House are back in session with full membership, before we address another phase."

The bill passed by the Senate on Tuesday does not include billions demanded by Democrats to bail out state and local governments that were slammed by the coronavirus pandemic:

"Now we know that they are all suffering. We know that they have got revenue problems," McConnell said:

But my view is, we have gone so far on the national debt here, that the next time we address this issue, the Senate should be back in session, fully up and running with everybody involved in the discussion.

So I will predict that we will not try to pass another rescue package by consent. My view is, we ought to bring everybody back, have full participation, begin to think about the implications to the country's future for this level of national debt, begin to see some evidence of the economy beginning to get back to normal--hopefully in states that are less impacted, beginning to see the hospitals beginning to improve their position by being able to engage in elective surgery again and take measured steps as we go along, measured steps.

Let's see what we are doing that is succeeding, what is not succeeding, what needs less, what needs more. Let's weigh this very carefully because the future of our country in terms of the amount of debt that we are adding up is a matter of genuine concern.

McConnell noted that many of the reporters were wearing masks:

"So what I hope we are going to see here in the next few days, and may be within the next week for sure, is these beginning steps to open up the economy -- a higher comfort level. I see all of you have your mask on. A higher comfort level to wear a mask in public, which Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx have recommended and we are certainly doing here in Washington when we go outside the building.

"A greater awareness of social distancing, but at the same time, beginning to get back to normal because unless we get our economy up and running again there is not in the way we can spend enough to continue to prop up the country."

MRC Store