March 12, 2020 / 2:22 PM / a month ago

U.S. Senate Republican leader blasts House's coronavirus bill

FILE PHOTO: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) 2020 Policy Conference in Washington U.S., March 3, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A wide-ranging coronavirus response bill sought by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives was criticized on Thursday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who said more limited legislation could be sought.

Calling the House bill an “ideological wish list,” McConnell, a Republican, said in a Senate speech, “I hope Senate Democrats will not block potential requests from our colleagues today to pass smaller, non-controversial pieces of legislation today.”

McConnell also said that the Senate “will continue to stand ready and willing to work toward further bicameral bipartisan actions.”

McConnell said the House Democrats’ bill would create new layers of bureaucracy that could cause “massive job losses” at businesses and put “thousands of small businesses at risk.”

Following his speech, when asked by Reuters whether an alternative coronavirus bill was being developed by Senate Republicans, McConnell did not respond.

The House and Senate had been aiming to be in recess next week. It was unclear whether battles over a new coronavirus response bill could delay the start of that break.

Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Diane Craft

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