House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced on Thursday that he would not support a Democratic-led bill aimed at mitigating the economic impact of the coronavirus, arguing that lawmakers should remain in session to hash out bipartisan legislation.
“The president last night said we are committed to helping those who will face economic hardships as a result of work disruptions and illness. The country is looking to the government to come together and meet these challenges, but the bill that we saw that just came forth last night at 11 p.m. comes up short,” McCarthy told reporters at a press conference.
“There’s a couple major problems with it. Here’s one glaring problem: Under [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi’s bill, the Social Security Administration will be set up to administer the paid sick leave program. Now this will take more than six months, so it won’t work in time. It will also hamper the administration from putting out Social Security for those who need it right now that are in harm’s way,” he added.
“This will hurt the very population it’s supposed to be helping. It forces permanent paid sick leave for all businesses without exemptions and no sunsets.”
McCarthy’s comments came just before the bill — which would require employers to grant paid sick leave and bolster unemployment benefits, in addition to ensuring free diagnostic testing for the virus — was scheduled to come to the floor on Thursday, before lawmakers are slated to leave for a one-week recess.
The minority leader also cited Republicans’ concerns with provisions related to paid sick leave and disaster aid eligibility, adding that his GOP colleagues are committed to working across the aisle and with the Trump administration on a solution that can garner broad bipartisan support.
“There are a few ideas that I think that we have brought to the table that can help — employee retention credit, making public health emergencies eligible for major disaster programs,” he said.
“And finally, solving the problems when it comes to masks, there’s a certain piece of legislation we can move that would be a piece of it that would give us millions of more masks out there for the health providers that need it. … I think we stay here until we get it right. This is a time in place that you do not want to rush something.”
McCarthy went on to say he believes a bipartisan deal could be struck in as little as 24 hours.
“We’ve got some bright minds … let them look at it. Let us get together and put the very best ideas together, and I will promise you that you will find a very bipartisan vote for that and not the one that slows it up by any means, and I think we can get this done in the next 48 hours,” he said. “I think that we can get this done in 24 or 48 hours — I think it’s critical that we do.”