Senate GOP expects vote on third coronavirus package next week

Bonnie Cash

Senate Republicans say they expect to vote next week on the third coronavirus funding package as they race to negotiate and draft the bill.

Talk of voting on “phase three” comes before the Senate has even passed the second coronavirus package, which is expected to clear the chamber later Wednesday. 

“I do think the vote will be next week on phase three,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told reporters.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said he expected senators would work through the weekend so they could be ready to vote “early next week.”

The quick timeline comes as the task forces set up by McConnell to craft the bill are expected to turn over their work by Thursday, a first step to an eventual vote. 

McConnell told reporters after a closed-door lunch that Republicans were “getting close” and “hoping to be together shortly.” 

What will be in the legislation remains in flux but lawmakers are under pressure to move quickly as the growing coronavirus outbreak has cratered the economy, with stocks falling and businesses across sectors having to limit their operations or close altogether.

The White House is pitching a package that will top $1 trillion and is expected to include financial assistance for Americans and help for industries and business affected by the outbreak. 

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) characterized the Senate GOP’s ideas as “modifications” to the Treasury proposal.

Once Senate Republicans turn over their own proposals, they still need to get on the same page as the White House, start negotiations with Democrats and draft actual legislation, which could take days. 

“It’s going to take a little while obviously, we’ve got to get together, we have  to get the Democrats on board, the administration on board and eventually a four corners deal with House … so there’s several steps along the way here,” said Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican. “I would suspect this pushes probably at least through the weekend and probably into some time next week.” 

Senate Republicans are looking at help for impacted industries as well as for individuals — including cash payments — and small businesses harmed by the gloomy economic outlook. 

“Everyone agrees that workers need relief. Republicans are working on bold solutions to help individuals and families as we speak. But small businesses need relief too,” McConnell said. 

McConnell said, unlike the negotiations on the second bill, he first wants Senate Republicans to get a deal amongst themselves and with the White House and then negotiate with Democrats. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin negotiated the second package which has garnered strong opposition within the Senate GOP caucus.

“We are trying to reach an agreement among ourselves as to what Senate Republicans and the administration favor doing next,” McConnell said on Tuesday. 

—Updated at 3:12 p.m.

Tags Coronavirus John Cornyn Mike Rounds Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Roy Blunt Steven Mnuchin

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