GOP senator calls House coronavirus bill a 'fairy tale'

Republicans are pouring cold water on a forthcoming House coronavirus relief bill, signaling it is a non-starter in the Senate.

House Democrats are expected to introduce their legislation as soon as Monday evening and vote on it as soon as Friday.

But members of Senate GOP leadership shot down the bill on Monday and indicated it won’t have an affect on their actions. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks Overnight Health Care: Ohio governor tests positive for COVID-19 ahead of Trump's visit | US shows signs of coronavirus peak, but difficult days lie ahead | Trump: COVID-19 vaccine may be ready 'right around' Election Day MORE (R-Ky.) has advocated for a “pause” on any relief legislation.  

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Asked if the bill would impacted the Senate’s timeline, Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoLatest Trump proposal on endangered species could limit future habitat, critics say Republicans dismiss Trump proposal to delay election Barrasso nuclear bill latest GOP effort to boost uranium mining MORE (R-Wyo.), the No. 3 Republican senator, said “absolutely not.”

“[It] is a fairy tale. It’s a liberal wish list. It actually lacks credibility,” Barrasso told reporters. 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSkepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal Republicans uncomfortably playing defense Negotiators hit gas on coronavirus talks as frustration mounts MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to McConnell, said the House bill “has everything but the kitchen sink in there.”

“I think it's not a serious effort to negotiate a bill that actually has a chance of passing, so I don't feel like that in and of itself increases the sense of urgency,” Cornyn said.

House Democrats have yet to unveil their bill, but it is expected to include hundreds of billions more in aid for state and local governments, help for the Postal Service, and another round of direct assistance. The bill is expected to top $2.2 trillion, the amount for March’s mammoth bill.

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The House could vote as soon as Friday, according to an announcement from House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOn The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Overnight Health Care: Ohio governor tests positive for COVID-19 ahead of Trump's visit | US shows signs of coronavirus peak, but difficult days lie ahead | Trump: COVID-19 vaccine may be ready 'right around' Election Day Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire MORE (D-Md.).

The timeline is a 180 from the Senate, where McConnell has called for a “pause” as lawmakers try to determine what has and hasn’t worked as part of the $2.8 trillion already appropriated by Congress. 

"We're basically assessing what we've done already. I'm in constant communication with the White House, and if we decide to go forward we'll go forward together," McConnell told reporters earlier Monday. 

"I don't think we have yet felt the urgency of acting immediately. That time could develop," McConnell added. 

McConnell has offered few signals about what he wants from another bill except that it must include liability protections for employers as they start to reopen. 

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The Senate is expected to go on a one-week recess starting a week from Friday. It appears increasingly likely it will not pass its own bill before then, which would delay it until June. 

The White House held a call with a bipartisan group of senators on Monday, similar to a call held with House lawmakers last week, but senators said administration officials were largely in a “listening mode.”

Asked whether the possibility of the House passing something by next week impacts the Senate’s timeline, Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSkepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal GOP expects Senate to be in session next week without coronavirus deal House Republicans introduce legislation to give states 0 million for elections MORE (R-Mo.) replied, “I don’t know that it does.”