Senate Republicans eye Friday spending votes
© Greg Nash
Senate Republicans are suggesting they could take up a tax package and end-of-the-year spending bill as early as Friday, as they head toward a holiday recess. 
"Nobody, I think, sees any benefit of stringing this out any longer than necessary, so my hope is that we'll be able to conclude this Friday," Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTrump adds to legal team after attacks on Mueller Senate tees up Yemen vote for Tuesday Senate GOP: Legislation to protect Mueller not needed MORE (R-Texas), the chamber's Republican whip, told reporters. 
"I think that will be the plan," he added.
Cornyn had previously suggested that the Senate could try to vote on the proposals on Thursday. The House, however, is now expected to vote on the end-of-the-year spending bill Friday, pushing back votes in the Senate. 
To vote on the measures on Friday Republican leadership would need to get consent from every senator to speed up the votes and avoid keeping lawmakers here into next week. The Senate is also expected to pass a short-term spending bill later Wednesday that would give lawmakers until Tuesday to pass the legislation. 
Cornyn added that the omnibus spending bill and the tax package could be merged "in the interest of time," but stressed that hadn't been finalized. 
The comments come after Senate Republicans huddled in a closed-door meeting earlier Wednesday to discuss the omnibus spending bill as well as a separate tax package. 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate tees up Yemen vote for Tuesday Senate confirms Trump's border chief House leaves out ObamaCare fix from must-pass funding bill MORE (R-Ky.) called the discussion "productive," saying that he walked Republican lawmakers through the details of the legislation. 
Coming out of the meeting, Republicans largely suggested they were still digesting the 2,009-page omnibus legislation, which was released after 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday. 
Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMisinformation campaign is at the center of opposition to common sense sex trafficking legislation This week: Congress races to prevent third shutdown With bills on the table, Congress must heed the call to fix our national parks MORE (R-Ohio), who like Toomey faces a tough reelection bid next year, said that he's still looking through the legislation. He described the omnibus as "a monstrosity," because of its size, before touting pro-Ohio provisions included in the bill. 
Corker added that "large bills like this ... give everyone heartburn. But based on what I know about it leaving this meeting, you know, I do think there's a number of very positive things in the omni." 
But the legislation is already getting pushback from some Republicans. 
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the chairman of the Banking Committee, quickly became a "no" vote. 
"No, it's got some things in it that I don't plan to support," he told reporters when asked if he would vote for the omnibus bill, though he didn't specify his objections. 
Meanwhile, Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump informally offered Cohn CIA job before changing his mind: report Schiff: I thought more Republicans would speak out against Trump Trump presses GOP to change Senate rules MORE (R-Ariz.) railed both on and off the Senate floor about a provision that would lift restrictions on the use of Russian-made rocket engines. 
The Arizona Republican, who chairs the Armed Services Committee, slammed the measure as "pork barrel parochialism" that would "line the pocket of Putin's gang of thugs." 
He said that he would vote against the omnibus unless the provision is removed. 
"It borders on corruption," he told reporters, placing blame on Shelby and Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinTrump vows tougher borders to fight opioid epidemic Clinton: 'I meant no disrespect' with Trump voter comments Lawmakers rally to defend Mueller after McCabe exit MORE (D-Ill.) for adding the provision to the omnibus legislation. 
Asked if Shelby had discussed the matter with him, McCain fired back, "Of course not, that's not the way Sen. Shelby does business." 
Separately, Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTrump presses GOP to change Senate rules Only thing Defense’s UFO probe proves is power of political favors Nevada Democrat accused of sexual harassment reconsiders retirement: report MORE (D-Nev.) quickly claimed victory on the omnibus, suggesting that "it would have been a lot worse" without Democratic input. 
"We must also consider the many troublesome provisions that didn't wind up in the legislation," he said. "When this matter came from the House — no more than 200 so-called riders, and they didn't wind up in the bill." 
Asked about Democratic posturing, Cornyn suggested that "there's a certain amount of theater going on."