Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats 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 HollenGOP tries to take filibuster pressure off Manchin, Sinema Overnight Energy & Environment — Biden set to restore national monuments rolled back by Trump Markey: Senate must pass reconciliation package before global climate summit MORE (D-Md.), describing why he would vote against cloture.
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSchumer endorses democratic socialist India Walton in Buffalo mayor's race Guns Down America's leader says Biden 'has simply not done enough' on gun control The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Manchin heatedly dismisses rumors of leaving Democratic Party 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 DurbinManchin: Negotiators to miss Friday target for deal on reconciliation bill Democrats look for plan B on filibuster The Memo: Cuts to big bill vex Democrats 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 WarrenDemocrats scramble to reach deal on taxes Ethics office warned officials about unnecessary trades Fed imposes tougher rules on financial trades amid scandal MORE (D-Mass.) told reporters after the lunch.