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 CornynKushner saying immigration plan will be 'neutral' on legal admissions: report Cornyn campaign, Patton Oswalt trade jabs over comedian's support for Senate candidate MJ Hegar announces Texas Senate bid 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 McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? Dems charge ahead on immigration Biden and Bernie set for clash 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 PortmanSherrod Brown asks Trump Fed pick why he referred to Cleveland, Cincinnati as 'armpits of America' Senate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller GOP senator wears shirt honoring Otto Warmbier at Korean DMZ 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. 
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 DurbinDurbin calls Mueller report findings on Trump team 'troubling' Congress opens door to fraught immigration talks McConnell: 'Past time' for immigration-border security deal 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 ReidSenate buzzsaw awaits 2020 progressive proposals Sanders courts GOP voters with 'Medicare for All' plan Glamorization of the filibuster must end 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."