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Some Democrats growing antsy as Senate talks drag on

Some Democrats are growing antsy over striking a deal on the economic stimulus after two votes to advance the fiscal rescue package failed, sending stock markets deeper into their decline.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerMcConnell: COVID-19 relief will be added to omnibus spending package Overnight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases The five biggest challenges facing President-elect Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) promised Monday morning that he and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Top GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week Overnight Health Care: CDC panel recommends who gets vaccine first | McConnell offering new relief bill | Hahn downplays White House meeting on vaccines MORE were “very close” to a deal, but by the evening, they still had not announced an agreement.  

With the stock market in turmoil and predictions of double-digit unemployment gaining steam, some Democrats are getting anxious to pass a bill as Republicans hammer them by the hour for holding up the process.

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“I want to see this clock ticking. I want both sides to be under the gun and under pressure,” Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) said after voting with Republicans on Monday to proceed to the bill. Every other Democrat voted against moving forward.

Jones, who is up for reelection, said he was “absolutely” sick of the political games and wanted to see a deal later in the day.

“My vote now is to say let’s get it done,” he said.

Other Democrats said they hoped to see an agreement announced by the end of Monday.

“I hope and expect we’ll have a handshake deal today,” said Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineCongress set for chaotic year-end sprint Democrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus MORE (D-Va.).

Sen. Gary PetersGary PetersRepublican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race Hillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff MORE (D-Mich.), another incumbent on the ballot in November, said that “everybody feels a sense of urgency.”

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“I think we all know it’s got to be done quickly,” he said.

Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterOvernight Defense: Trump loyalist to lead Pentagon transition | Democrats ask VA for vaccine distribution plan | Biden to get classified intel reports Senate Democrats press VA for vaccine distribution plan President is wild card as shutdown fears grow MORE (D-Mont.) said the talks “need to be urgent” but “need to be done right.”

He joked that at the current pace, the House, which just got back to Washington after a weeklong recess, might wind up passing a phase three stimulus bill before the Senate finally wraps up its negotiations.

“If we don’t hurry up, they’ll get it done before we get ours done,” he said. “So it would be good if we got ours done.”

Republicans, sensing strong public support for passing a stimulus bill quickly, are pummeling their Democratic colleagues for holding out for additional protections for workers and restrictions on how a $500 billion corporate loan program would be managed.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Top GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week Criminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot MORE (R-Ky.) on Monday hammered Democrats for pushing what he called a “wish list” of liberal priorities such as tax deductions for solar and wind energy, provisions to “force employers to give special new treatment to big labor,” and emissions standards for the airlines.

“The markets are tanking once again because this body can’t get its act together,” he said.

A Senate GOP aide familiar with the talks said Democrats wanted Secretary of Labor Eugene ScaliaEugene ScaliaWhat's behind the divisions over Biden's secretary of Labor? Business groups shudder at thought of Sanders as Labor secretary Why millennials will win Trump's war on socially responsible investing MORE to draft a new Occupational Safety and Health Administration standard for hospital workers in an extremely compressed period of time.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsBipartisan, bicameral group unveils 8 billion coronavirus proposal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms Biden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate MORE (R-Maine) warned that “we don’t have another day.”

“We don’t have another hour. We don’t have another minute to delay acting,” she said.

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenators call for passage of bill to cement alcohol excise tax relief The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms Overnight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases MORE (R-Ohio) pointed out that the Senate bill already includes a massive expansion of unemployment benefits.

“It’s the most generous unemployment insurance plus-up by far ever in the history of our country,” he said. “It adds eight times more funding into the unemployment system for the rest of this year than is currently being spent.”

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The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) on Monday afternoon pounced on the stalled negotiations to attack Democrats for “playing games while people’s lives are at stake.”

“For the second time in less than 24 hours, Senate Democrats held the U.S. economy hostage and threatened the health and safety of millions of Americans because they see this national crisis as a golden political opportunity they are incapable of letting go to waste,” said NRSC spokesman Jesse Hunt.

Democrats also faced criticism from less partisan sources.

Steven Rattner, a contributing writer to The New York Times and the former head of President Obama’s automobile industry rescue effort, accused Congress of “fiddling” and praised the Fed for taking decisive action.

That prompted Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyOvernight Defense: Defense bill among Congress's year-end scramble | Iranian scientist's assassination adds hurdles to Biden's plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fire Biden faces new Iran challenges after nuclear scientist killed New Jersey to halt indoor sports, cap outside gatherings MORE (D-Conn.) to defend his leadership’s tactics by tweeting shortly before 9 a.m. Monday that “spending 18 extra hours to get $2 [trillion] is worth it.”

Now it looks like the talks will extend well past 18 hours as the two sides haggle over funding for hospitals and community health centers, paying down federal student loans, and GOP-favored language that would exclude Planned Parenthood from receiving federal aid.  

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Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Overnight Health Care: CDC panel recommends who gets vaccine first | McConnell offering new relief bill | Hahn downplays White House meeting on vaccines Bipartisan, bicameral group unveils 8 billion coronavirus proposal MORE (D-W.Va.), a prominent centrist who voted twice with Democrats to block the GOP-drafted stimulus bill, said Democrats would act quickly to move legislation once there is agreement.

“If we get an agreement, I’ll tell you every Democrat will vote to suspend the rules and move,” he said.

At the same time, Manchin expressed impatience with last-minute Democratic demands to provide tax credits for wind and solar companies and carbon-emission restrictions on the airlines.

“I’m not for that,” he said of items that are being “thrown in” to the talks.

“I’m not for the Green New Deal. I think you all know that,” he told GOP colleagues on the floor.

“Forget about the Republicans. Forget about the Democrats. Let’s get this place working,” he exhorted colleagues.