Stimulus talks to miss McConnell's Monday deadline

 Stimulus talks to miss McConnell's Monday deadline
© Greg Nash

GOP senators say they do not expect a deal on a mammoth stimulus package on Monday, even as negotiations continue.

Members of the Senate Republican leadership team emerged from a closed-door meeting on Monday predicting that congressional leadership and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinNavarro, Mnuchin clashed in front of Trump in Oval Office over TikTok: WaPo Graham says he appreciates Trump orders, but 'would much prefer a congressional agreement' Trump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter MORE would not be able to wrap up the stimulus deal by the end of the day.

"Doesn't look like it at the moment. ... I hope I'm wrong. I hope they'll decide to come together," Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThe Hill's 12:30 Report: White House, Dems debate coronavirus relief package The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Key 48 hours loom as negotiators push for relief deal Trump dismisses legal questions on GOP nomination speech at White House MORE (R-S.D.), McConnell's No. 2, told reporters after the meeting when asked if they could get a deal on Monday.

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Even if they could, the GOP senators noted, staffers would still need to finalize drafting the legislation, kicking the Senate's work into at least Tuesday and guaranteeing the chamber misses Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter Coronavirus deal key to Republicans protecting Senate majority Coronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal MORE's stated timeline of passing the bill by Monday.

McConnell came to the floor around 7:20 p.m. and announced that the Senate will not be voting on a stimulus package again Monday. 
 
"We will not be having any votes tonight," he said. 

"The wish list isn’t getting bigger. It’s getting shorter, but we’re not going to have a deal today," said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynCOVID-19 bill limiting liability would strike the wrong balance From a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters Skepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to McConnell.

He added that the earliest a vote could happen — if they are able to reach an agreement and all 100 senators give consent — is Tuesday. McConnell has warned that without cooperation, passage of the bill could be delayed until at least Friday or Saturday.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyMcConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill GOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe On The Money: Unemployment debate sparks GOP divisions | Pandemic reveals flaws of unemployment insurance programs | Survey finds nearly one-third of rehired workers laid off again MORE (R-Iowa) added that his takeaway from the meeting was that there would not be a deal Monday. Even if there was, he added, staffers would still have to finish drafting it, something he said could not be done by the end of the day.

"We just had a discussion, and things probably can't get done tonight, and there were no details about the things that were in dispute," he said after the GOP leadership meeting.

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The pessimism over the chances of a deal Monday comes even as Mnuchin and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi, Schumer slam Trump executive orders, call for GOP to come back to negotiating table Sunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief Postal Service says it lost .2 billion over three-month period MORE (D-N.Y.) both predicted they would be able to get a deal Monday.

Minutes before Democrats blocked the GOP stimulus plan for a second time in as many days, Schumer said he was "confident" that they would be able to reach an agreement Monday.

"We're very close to reaching a deal, very close, and our goal is to reach a deal today, and we're hopeful, even confident, that we will meet that goal," Schumer said from the Senate floor.

A spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Monday about the GOP remarks.

A source familiar with the talks said the agreement under discussion would include Democratic priorities such as expanded paid leave, increased federal food assistance programs and state stabilization funding.

But sticking points continued to crop up throughout the day, with GOP aides accusing Democrats of trying to add unrelated energy provisions and objecting to help for farmers. Democrats, meanwhile, say Republicans want to use the bill to extend an abstinence education program.

Other areas still unresolved include how to address student loans, paid sick leave and worker safety standards.

"They want to achieve a lot of their wish list through this crisis," Thune told reporters.

Eric Ueland, the director of legislative affairs for the White House, told reporters on Monday evening that he and Mnuchin were continuing to negotiate, even as GOP senators did not expect an agreement by the end of the day.

"I wouldn't rule anything out. We're plugging away," he said when asked if there would not be a deal on Monday.

"We're exchanging a lot of ideas, legislative language, proposals back and forth, so there's a lot of work that's being done to try to finalize, and we do believe that Sen. Schumer and Democrats are operating in good faith," he said.

Asked about provisions unrelated to the coronavirus, he noted that both House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi, Schumer slam Trump executive orders, call for GOP to come back to negotiating table Trump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter Sunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Democrats had floated ideas, either in negotiations or in discussions about the House coronavirus bill.

"We've been clear with Senate Democrats when those ideas come on the table our lack of interest in them," he said.