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Senate sets up Tuesday session to try to pass coronavirus relief deal

The Senate will try to pass a forthcoming agreement on coronavirus aid as soon as Tuesday if negotiators are able to reach a deal.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi mum on when House will send impeachment article to Senate Democratic senator: COVID-19 relief is priority over impeachment trial The Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history MORE (R-Ky.) amended the Senate schedule to set up the Tuesday meeting; the chamber had previously only been expected to meet this week on Monday and Thursday.

The Tuesday meeting will give the chamber another chance to pass a deal on an "interim" coronavirus relief bill, and keep the House on track with Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerGOP divided over Liz Cheney's future Pelosi mum on when House will send impeachment article to Senate Colorado officials pen letter requesting probe into Boebert's actions MORE's timeline of voting as soon as Wednesday.

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"Since this is so urgent, I have asked that the Senate meet again tomorrow in a new session that was not previously scheduled, and the Democratic leader has agreed to my request. Colleagues, it is past time, past time, to get this done for the country," McConnell said from the Senate floor.

Asked about the negotiations by reporters, he added: "We're getting closer and hopefully we'll have an agreement sometime later today."

The initial $350 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) ran out last week, adding urgency for Congress to act quickly amid high demand for the financial help as the coronavirus has forced businesses to scale back or close altogether.

The decision to schedule another session comes as congressional negotiators and the Trump administration are close to an agreement on more coronavirus aid, with both sides aiming to announce the deal on Monday. 

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioConfirmation hearing for Biden's DNI pick postponed McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time The Hill's Morning Report - Trump impeached again; now what? MORE (R-Fla.) had hoped to pass an agreement on Monday, but negotiations dragged on through the day, making action by the Senate's mid-afternoon session unrealistic. 

“It’s now been four days since the Paycheck Protection Program ran out of money. Republicans have been trying to secure more funding for this critical program for a week and a half," McConnell said from the Senate floor. 

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“At this hour, our Democratic colleagues are still prolonging their discussions with the administration, so the Senate regretfully won’t be able to pass more funding for Americans’ paychecks today," he added. 

The contours of the deal, according to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinTreasury imposes additional sanctions on Cuba over allegations of 'serious human rights abuse' Treasury Department sanctions inner circle of Russian agent Derkach for election interference Sanders defends push to impeach Trump: Insurrection won't be tolerated MORE, include $300 billion for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program including money specifically for small banks, $50 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for testing.

But how to structure the testing funds was still an open point of discussion Monday. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Democrats looking to speed through Senate impeachment trial MORE (D-N.Y.) told CNN's "State of the Union" that the federal government had to be coordinating the testing nationwide.  

"You can't have it state by state. ... You need the federal government to focus," he said.

Democrats introduced their own plan last week that would require the Trump administration to scale up the ability for a nationwide testing regime.  

Senate Democrats also fumed during a call late last week with Vice President Pence, with sources telling The Hill that lawmakers felt like they weren't getting answers to their questions on testing. 

Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time GOP senator: Trump rhetoric on election fraud 'certainly not helpful' in Georgia Senate GOP opposition grows to objecting to Electoral College results MORE (R-W.Va.) said Monday that lawmakers on a White House-appointed task force also questioned President TrumpDonald TrumpCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Azar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser's lawsuit MORE during a call last week on testing. 

"I think the testing issue is what really got hit hard. In other words, 'Mr. President, the American people are not going to feel good and right about opening back up until we have more robust testing,' " Capito said during a radio interview with WRNR, a West Virginia radio station. 

Public health experts have said widespread, widely available testing is a requirement for starting to lift social distancing requirements put in place to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. 

But the administration has placed the onus on states to carry out their own testing, positioning the federal government as a backup. 

"States, not the Federal Government, should be doing the Testing - But we will work with the Governors and get it done. This is easy compared to the fast production of thousands of complex Ventilators!" Trump tweeted on Monday. 

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Republicans have also said that additional money for state and local governments will not be in the bill, a detail that Democrats haven't yet publicly conceded.  

Because lawmakers are currently spread out across the country due to the spread of the coronavirus, leadership in the Senate is hoping to pass the new coronavirus aid by unanimous consent. That allows any one lawmaker to come back to D.C. and block it, though no senator has indicated yet that they would.  

Republicans have warned that additional money for states would make it impossible for the interim bill to pass the Senate by unanimous consent and that the issue should instead wait until the fourth coronavirus bill. 

The House is expected to have to return to vote on the bill, according to the notice from Hoyer. Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieHouse conservatives plot to oust Liz Cheney GOP lawmaker on Capitol protesters: 'I will not be deterred' by 'mob demand' Questions and answers about the Electoral College challenges MORE (R-Ky.) has signaled he would not let a bill pass by consent and some progressives have signaled they will oppose the interim bill as currently drafted.  

"Members are further advised that at this time, a recorded vote on the interim legislation is likely in the House this week. Members will be given sufficient notice about the exact timing of any votes and when they will need to return to Washington, DC," Hoyer added in the notice to members. 

--This report was updated at 2:27 p.m.