No deal as Senate takes procedural vote on coronavirus package

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFive issues that will define the months until the midterms  Key senators to watch on Democrats' social spending bill Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE (R-Ky.) delayed an initial vote related to a mammoth coronavirus stimulus package until later Sunday as a deal over the bill remains elusive.

McConnell moved the vote on a "shell" bill, which the text of the stimulus package would be added to, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m on Sunday. 

The decision comes after McConnell had appeared determined to move forward even as Democrats fumed over the stimulus bill being circulated by Republicans. 


"The risks to our country grow every single day that we do not act. ... That’s why we are going to hold our first procedural vote in just a few minutes," McConnell said from the Senate floor less than an hour before punting it until early evening. 

If McConnell moved forward with the procedural vote at 3 p.m., Democrats were all but guaranteed to block it by denying McConnell the 60 votes needed to move forward. 

“In my view, right now it would be giving people unrealistic hope to proceed now. We should let people know immediately that Republicans have taken a U-turn,” said Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenSenators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama Democrats scramble to figure out shutdown strategy MORE (D-Md.), describing why he would vote against cloture.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills Schumer mourns death of 'amazing' father Feehery: The honest contrarian MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters that he informed McConnell that Democrats could not support the coronavirus package as currently drafted. 

"Early this morning, Leader McConnell presented to us a highly partisan bill written exclusively by Republicans," Schumer said. "The legislation had many, many problems." 

Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks 91 House Dems call on Senate to expand immigration protections in Biden spending bill Bipartisan senators press FBI, inspector general for changes following Nassar case MORE (D-Ill.) added that it would be a "serious mistake" for McConnell to hold the vote at 3 p.m. 


“We are pleading with McConnell not to call this vote,” he said.

Senators appear to be making an eleventh-hour effort to try to get a deal after a meeting between the top four leaders and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinMajor Russian hacking group linked to ransomware attack on Sinclair: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Former Treasury secretaries tried to resolve debt limit impasse in talks with McConnell, Yellen: report MORE failed to break the stalemate. 

“There are issues that have not been resolved. There are serious issues. We hope that we can get them resolved quickly,” Schumer said after the closed-door lunch.

McConnell told reporters that he delayed the vote at Schumer's request and to give negotiations more time.

"The talks are continuing, and Sen. Schumer asked for a couple of hours, and I thought it was a reasonable request," he said.

But the hurdles to getting a deal are steep. 

Democrats have outlined a litany of problems with the GOP stimulus package as currently drafted, arguing that it doesn't expand paid sick leave and includes hundreds of billions for corporations and raising concerns that it walks back agreements they thought had been reached on expanding unemployment insurance. 

"Right now, people are very unhappy about the Republicans have put forward. ... The overall view is that they want to create a slush fund for giant corporations," Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenRestless progressives eye 2024 Poll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Biden eyes new path for Fed despite Powell pick MORE (D-Mass.) told reporters after the lunch.