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 MnuchinSunday shows preview: Lawmakers, state governors talk coronavirus, stimulus package and resources as pandemic rages on Struggling states warn coronavirus stimulus falls short Trump asserts power to decide what info inspector general gives Congress about stimulus package 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 ThuneTrump's magical thinking won't stop the coronavirus pandemic Lawmakers brace for more coronavirus legislation after trillion bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senate overcomes hurdles, passes massive coronavirus bill 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 McConnellCoronavirus pushes GOP's Biden-Burisma probe to back burner Struggling states warn coronavirus stimulus falls short Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike 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 CornynLawmakers already planning more coronavirus stimulus after T package Cuban says he'd spank daughter if she was partying during coronavirus pandemic Twitter comes under fire over Chinese disinformation on coronavirus 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 GrassleyCoronavirus pushes GOP's Biden-Burisma probe to back burner Lobbying blitz yields wins for airlines, corporations, banks, unions Chances for drug pricing, surprise billing action fade until November 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 SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTexas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing COVID-19, Bill Barr and the American authoritarian tradition 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 PelosiSunday shows preview: Lawmakers, state governors talk coronavirus, stimulus package and resources as pandemic rages on Attacking the Affordable Care Act in the time of COVID-19 DC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill 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.