Schumer rips GOP over coronavirus divisions: 'Disorganized, chaotic and unprepared'

Schumer rips GOP over coronavirus divisions: 'Disorganized, chaotic and unprepared'
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerVoting rights failed in the Senate — where do we go from here? Forced deadline spurs drastic tactic in Congress Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE (D-N.Y.) tore into Senate Republicans on Wednesday as they struggle to reach an agreement amongst themselves and with the White House about their forthcoming coronavirus relief proposal.

"It's in the middle of the week, and the Republican Party is so disorganized, chaotic and unprepared that they can barely cobble together a partisan bill in their own conference," Schumer said while speaking from the Senate floor Wednesday.

Republicans have been meeting behind closed doors this week as they negotiate what their bill will look like. Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinConservatives are outraged that Sarah Bloom Raskin actually believes in capitalism Suspect in Khashoggi murder arrested The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to tackle omicron risks with new travel rules MORE and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsAre the legal walls closing in on Donald Trump? Jan. 6 probe roils Cheney race in Wyoming House has the power to subpoena its members — but does it have the will? MORE met with the caucus Tuesday, but GOP senators characterized it as a stream of ideas from members rather than them getting specifics on the bill.

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Republicans are still divided over key parts of the bill including how to structure unemployment benefits and whether to include a payroll-tax cut.

There's also angst from some senators about the roughly $1 trillion maximum being imposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHow Cruz Supreme Court case could lead to unlimited anonymous election spending Trump and Biden should stop denigrating US elections The Armageddon elections to come MORE (R-Ky.).

Despite the rifts, Meadows told reporters Tuesday that Republicans were “on our own 20-yard line” in negotiations.

Schumer, however, mocked the football analogy questioning "where have the Republicans been?"

"I have never seen a political party in the middle of a crisis so tied in a knot that the majority leader can't even mention it in his speech," he said. "The only reason there hasn't been another relief package in Congress already is because of this Republican incompetence and reckless delay." 

McConnell spoke from the Senate floor earlier Wednesday but did not mention the coronavirus talks. He told reporters Tuesday that he would introduce the GOP bill in a few days. Asked if he would introduce the bill on Wednesday, McConnell told reporters Wednesday morning, "we'll let you know." 

Schumer and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse leaders unveil bill to boost chip industry, science competitiveness with China Pelosi says she will run for reelection in 2022 Hoyer says 'significant' version of Build Back Better will pass this year MORE (D-Calif.) met with Meadows and Mnuchin on Tuesday, the first time the White House has sat down with Democratic leadership on the next coronavirus bill.  

Both Pelosi and Mnuchin have signaled they want to get something done by the end of next week. But McConnell indicated that he does not expect Congress to meet that deadline. Senators are instead looking at Aug. 7, the final day they are scheduled to be in before the August recess. 

Schumer, citing the tight timeframe, urged Republicans to unite behind a proposal and start negotiating. 

"We don't have time for this mess that Republicans are in," he said. "Congress needs to act quickly. Senate Republicans and the White House need to get on the same page, produce a proposal, not just drop it on the floor, but start negotiations."