Democrats fume over GOP coronavirus bill: 'Totally inadequate'

Senate Democrats are fuming over a coronavirus stimulus package being circulated by Republicans. 

Democrats emerged from a closed-door caucus lunch arguing that the bill fell short on several key provisions and urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMemorial Day weekend deals latest economic blow to travel industry Senate Republicans call on DOJ to investigate Planned Parenthood loans On The Money: Jobless rate exceeds 20 percent in three states | Senate goes on break without passing small business loan fix | Biden pledges to not raise taxes on those making under 0K MORE (R-Ky.) to delay an initial procedural vote — something he ultimately agreed to, rescheduling the 3 p.m. vote for 6 p.m.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Surgeon General stresses need to invest much more in public health infrastructure, during and after COVID-19; Fauci hopeful vaccine could be deployed in December Congress headed toward unemployment showdown The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mnuchin sees 'strong likelihood' of another relief package; Warner says some businesses 'may not come back' at The Hill's Advancing America's Economy summit MORE (D-W.Va.), one of the most conservative members within the Senate Democratic caucus, called the draft proposal the “same old repeated story from Mitch McConnell.” 


The procedural vote is slated to be on a "shell bill," a placeholder while the Senate finalizes language for the legislation.

“I’m not going to vote yes then no and this and that. ...If they can work out something between now and three, then that’s fine,” Manchin added. 

Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin: More COVID-19 congressional action ahead Economic fears deepen as US escalates tensions with China Pelosi says House is looking at bill that could delist some Chinese companies from US stock exchanges MORE (D-Md.) called the GOP bill “bad news” and that it was focused on “bailing out the biggest corporations."

Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: New documents show EPA rolled back mileage standards despite staff, WH concerns | Land management bureau grants 75 royalty rate cuts for oil and gas | EPA employees allege leadership interference with science in watchdog survey EPA's Wheeler grilled by Democrats over environmental rollbacks amid COVID-19 Markey says EPA administrator should apologize to minorities for coronavirus response MORE (D-Mass.) called it "totally inadequate."

Democrats have outlined a laundry list of objectionable provisions, arguing that the bill does not expand paid sick leave and actually caps how much employers have to pay.


A source familiar with the GOP bill text also said Republicans are “refusing to add strong worker protections” and have included language requiring companies keep employees “to the extent possible.”

Democrats worry the language is vague enough that corporations could take federal help and still fire workers. Democrats also wanted strong restrictions on corporations who take federal help, but the source said the GOP bill included “very weak” stock buyback restrictions that could be waived by Mnuchin.

Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSenate votes to reauthorize intel programs with added legal protections Senators request emergency funding for postal service in next coronavirus bill On The Money: Black workers may face disproportionate COVID-19 risk | Trump pick for pandemic response watchdog vows independence | Stocks inch higher as oil prices rise MORE, a moderate Montana Democrat, said the negotiations "haven't been particularly bipartisan."

"It's not well thought out, it doesn't put the priorities with workers to begin with, there's too much money, there's no oversight — not too much money, [but] too much money that they can do whatever the hell they want with, and with no oversight whatsoever," he said. 

The GOP bill, according to the source, also increases a “corporate bail out fund” to $500 billion. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoOn The Money: House Democrats unveil trillion coronavirus relief package | SCOTUS divided in Trump financial records case | Fed under pressure to speed up, expand emergency loans Fed faces bipartisan pressure to speed up, expand emergency loans Trump pick for pandemic response watchdog pledges independence amid Democratic skepticism MORE (R-Idaho) had pushed to increase the $208 billion proposed in the original GOP plan to ensure distressed industries have access to capital.


A Democratic aide confirmed the change, characterizing the bill as currently drafted as a “non-starter.”

"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 WarrenWarren to host high-dollar fundraiser for Biden It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers demand answers on Chinese COVID hacks | Biden re-ups criticism of Amazon | House Dem bill seeks to limit microtargeting MORE (D-Mass.) told reporters after the lunch. 

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHouse to consider amendment blocking warrantless web browsing surveillance COVID-19 increases importance of implementing reforms to organ donation system Senators offer bill to prevent relief payments from being seized by private debt collectors MORE (D-Ore.) said that the bill also walked back an understanding he had with Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenators offer bill to prevent relief payments from being seized by private debt collectors Senators weigh traveling amid coronavirus ahead of Memorial Day Why is our government holding us liable for COVID-19? MORE (D-Ore.) on extending unemployment insurance. 

"On unemployment insurance we've made a fair amount of headway," he said. "But based on what I've heard, what we had agreed to has now been kind of ratcheted down. So I'm kind of trying to figure out what the state of play is."

Van Hollen added that “some of the commitments that were made [to Democrats]  … were pulled back."

Republicans have defended their process, noting they spent days behind closed doors negotiating with both the administration and Democrats.

GOP senators began drafting the bill even without an overall deal. But, they said that they included areas of bipartisan agreement where they existed and tried to draft the legislation in a way that could garner bipartisan support in areas there they didn't have a deal.

"What we intend to do here in the Senate is to move forward with the Senate bill. I'm hopeful and optimistic that we will get bipartisan support because this bill has been negotiated on a bipartisan basis," McConnell said during a press conference on Sunday.

Mike Lillis contributed.