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Senate GOP leaders don't expect next coronavirus bill before mid-July

Senate GOP leaders don't expect next coronavirus bill before mid-July
© Greg Nash

Members of Senate GOP leadership said on Monday that they do not expect to be able to pass another coronavirus relief bill until mid-to-late July. 

The Senate is in session for more than three weeks before they leave Washington for a two-week July 4 recess. But several members of GOP leadership said on Monday that they do not expect to pass a bill before the break, delaying a fifth round of coronavirus relief until after they return on July 20. 

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTrump, allies raise pressure on Senate GOP ahead of impeachment The Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds Senate chaos threatens to slow Biden's agenda MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Republican senator, told reporters that he expected the so-called "phase four" bill to pass in July, but not before the break given the other items on the Senate's agenda. 

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"If you look right now at the schedule for the balance of the June work period is DOD, great outdoors, a couple circuit judges. ... I don't know how you can wedge that in there," he said. 

Asked about the timing for the next coronavirus bill, Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntTrump, allies raise pressure on Senate GOP ahead of impeachment This week: Senate stuck in limbo Skepticism reigns as Biden, McConnell begin new era MORE (R-Mo.), another member of GOP leadership, said he expected the timing for the next package would be the "end of July." 

"That's my sense of when we will and frankly my sense of when we'll have all the information we need to put the next bill together," Blunt said.  

The decision to wait until after the July 4 recess comes after House Democrats passed a $3 trillion bill last month that included, among other provisions, more help for state and local governments, another round of direct stimulus checks and a boost in food assistance. 

But Senate Republicans have declared that bill dead on arrival and said whatever Congress passes next will not have such a hefty price tag.

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A jobs report released late last week, which found a down tick in the level of unemployment, boosted the belief among GOP senators and aides that their decision to "pause" before starting negotiations on the next bill was the right decision. 

"We'll probably take up the next installment in the July timeframe," said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMcConnell: Power-sharing deal can proceed after Manchin, Sinema back filibuster Manchin vows that he won't vote to kill filibuster 'under any condition' Leahy, not Roberts, to preside over impeachment trial MORE (R-Texas), an advisor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer: Impeachment trial will be quick, doesn't need a lot of witnesses McConnell: Power-sharing deal can proceed after Manchin, Sinema back filibuster Budowsky: A Biden-McConnell state of emergency summit MORE (R-Ky.), said on Monday. 

Asked if that meant after the two-week July 4 break, Cornyn added: "I think that's probably more likely."  

A spokesperson for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOn The Money: Treasury announces efforts to help people get stimulus payments | Senate panel unanimously advances Yellen nomination for Treasury | Judge sets ground rules for release of Trump taxes Senate panel unanimously advances Yellen nomination for Treasury Finance Committee vote on Yellen nomination scheduled for Friday MORE (R-Iowa) said late last week that the financial data showed why lawmakers "should take a thoughtful approach and not rush to pass expensive legislation paid for with more debt before gaining a better understanding of the economic condition of the country."

"Chairman Grassley will work with his colleagues on any potential further coronavirus response legislation if it becomes necessary. It’s too early to say what that legislation might encompass," they added. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hasn't explicitly ruled out that the Senate would pass another coronavirus bill before the two-week break. But he previously detailed the legislative agenda items for the current work period and did not mention passing another package.  

He also said late last month that Senate Republicans would make a decision on the next bill in the "next month or so," which would bump passage of the bill before the recess around the same time that McConnell has said they will make a decision about doing another bill. 

But the decision to delay the next bill until after the July 4 recess puts Senate Republicans in direct contrast with Democrats, who are calling on McConnell to pass the next coronavirus package before senators leave town.  

“There is no reason that we cannot respond to this moment of national crisis with vigorous and sustained action, with purposeful action and bipartisan effort on the COVID pandemic and long-simmering issues of police violence and racial justice. We must do both,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerMcConnell: Power-sharing deal can proceed after Manchin, Sinema back filibuster Justice watchdog to probe whether officials sought to interfere with election Capitol insurrection fallout: A PATRIOT Act 2.0? MORE (D-N.Y.) said from the Senate floor.

“There are four remaining weeks before July 4. The time for waiting is gone,” he added.

White House economic adviser Larry KudlowLarry KudlowMORE told The Hill in an interview late last week that he and other administration officials have held informal, bipartisan conference calls with House and Senate leaders of both parties to exchange views on the next package.  

“There are no formal negotiations yet, but there are contacts at the highest level," he said. 

He added that he thought more formal negotiations were "possible" after the July 4 break. 

"I don’t want to second guess Senator McConnell or Speaker Pelosi, but I think that’s what people are thinking and as I say there are informal discussions going on," he said. 

Morgan Chalfant contributed.