Sen. Marco Rubio told CNBC on Thursday he would be willing to support a more expensive coronavirus stimulus package than he’d like because failing to provide financial relief to Americans and U.S. businesses presents larger risks to the U.S. economy.
“No one is going to get everything they want here, and from my perspective, that means the bill on this is probably going to be higher than I want it to be and I’m very uncomfortable with that,” the Florida Republican said on “Squawk Box.”
However, he added, “I think the price of not doing something is even higher. So as long as it’s limited in some way, as long as it’s not crazy, yes I’m willing to be flexible about it because I think it’s that important.”
Rubio’s comments came one day after Senate Democrats again blocked an effort from Republicans in the chamber to pass a $500 billion coronavirus relief bill, which included additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program. Democrats say it doesn’t offer enough help.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., continues to negotiate with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for a larger stimulus package as millions of Americans remain out of work during the pandemic. The two are expected to talk again Thursday to see if they can narrow their differences and reach a deal before the Nov. 3 election. House Democrats most recently passed a $2.2 trillion bill, while the White House has put forward a nearly $1.9 trillion proposal.
Pelosi and Democratic leaders have consistently been opposed to GOP proposals for so-called skinny stimulus bills, contending a more comprehensive and expensive piece of legislation is necessary due to the scale of the pandemic’s economic and health implications.
By contrast, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has warned that approving a deal that costs more than $2 trillion before the election could cause divisions within the GOP caucus. “Clearly there are Republicans in the Senate that will not vote for a deal that goes to $1.6 trillion, $1.8 trillion,” said Rubio, chairman of Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
While he said he would not be “happy” about that price tag either, “I’m willing to vote for things I’m not in favor of in order to pass the things I think are essential and important for our country, within reason.”
Rubio expressed concerns about small businesses that are struggling to keep their doors open and Americans who are facing challenges around housing. He also warned that “we haven’t seen the worst yet from some cities and counties” as they face budget gaps from declining tax revenues.
“In the end, I think we run the risk here of structural damage to components of our economy if we don’t do something,” he said. “I have more optimism that we’re going to have a deal on stimulus. I don’t know if it will be before the election just simply because of the calendar and some of the time constraints we face.”