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 McConnell (R-Ky.) has advocated for a “pause” on any relief legislation.
Asked if the bill would impacted the Senate’s timeline, Sen. John Barrasso (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 Cornyn (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.
The House could vote as soon as Friday, according to an announcement from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (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.
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 Blunt (R-Mo.) replied, “I don’t know that it does.”