SPONSORED:

Senate GOP punts coronavirus package to next week

Senate Republicans will introduce their coronavirus relief package next week, as they work to lock down final details with the administration.

GOP senators expected to introduce the package of bills on Thursday after days of closed-door haggling among themselves and the White House and publicly struggling to get on the same page.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFeinstein to step down as top Democrat on Judiciary Committee Voters want a strong economy and leadership, Democrats should listen On The Money: Biden to nominate Yellen for Treasury secretary | 'COVID cliff' looms | Democrats face pressure to back smaller stimulus MORE (R-Ky.) said key senators will instead unveil it Monday, pointing at the White House as the reason behind the delay.

ADVERTISEMENT

"The administration has requested additional time to review the fine details, but we will be laying down this proposal early next week. We have an agreement in principle on the shape of this package," McConnell said from the Senate floor about the decision. 

The decision is a shift from just Wednesday, when two members of GOP leadership said they expected the coronavirus package to come this week. 

But most of Thursday came and went without an update on the timing of the legislation. 

Several Republican senators left the Capitol for the week saying they had received no update on the timing of the forthcoming package. Instead, according to Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunMeadows meets with Senate GOP to discuss end-of-year priorities McConnell reelected as Senate GOP leader GOP faces fundraising reckoning as Democrats rake in cash MORE (R-Ind.), they were told by McConnell during a closed-door lunch that it was a "work in progress." 

The discussion, which was dominated with talk about the alligator soup served courtesy of Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), was just hours after Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | JPMorgan: Economy will shrink in first quarter due to COVID-19 spike Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Pence, Biden wage tug of war over pandemic plans MORE declared that the administration and the Senate GOP caucus had reached a "fundamental agreement." 

ADVERTISEMENT

“We talked about Louisiana and alligators. Honestly. We said ‘Mitch what you got?’ and he said, 'We’re working on it. Not much to report yet, but we’re working on it,'" said Sen. Mike RoundsMike RoundsDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Trump keeps tight grip on GOP amid divisions Hillicon Valley: Trump fires top federal cybersecurity official, GOP senators push back | Apple to pay 3 million to resolve fight over batteries | Los Angeles Police ban use of third-party facial recognition software MORE (R-S.D.). "So that’s where it’s at. So, I think it’s being fleshed out."

Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordEthics experts ask Senate to investigate Graham's probe of mail-in voting The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Capital One - Pfizer unveils detailed analysis of COVID-19 vaccine & next steps GOP senators congratulate Harris on Senate floor MORE (R-Okla.) added that "he expected it to be out today. I haven't seen it yet. But that's when I was expecting it to be able to come out." Sen. John CornynJohn CornynCornyn says election outcome 'becoming increasingly clear': report Top GOP senator: Biden should be getting intel briefings GOP senator congratulates Biden, says Trump should accept results MORE (R-Texas), who was been working on the liability protection portion, added that he was "expecting it this morning." 

Other Republicans senators, on the way out of Washington until Monday, indicated that there were still behind-the-scenes talks taking place. 

“We’re still developing the bill. It’s not going to come out till Monday," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOn The Money: Biden to nominate Yellen for Treasury secretary | 'COVID cliff' looms | Democrats face pressure to back smaller stimulus Loeffler to continue to self-isolate after conflicting COVID-19 test results Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection MORE (R-Iowa) told reporters. 

There had been signs earlier in the day that Republicans were likely to leave Washington for the week without unveiling the package, which will be their opening offer in negotiations with Democrats on a fifth coronavirus bill.

ADVERTISEMENT

Negotiators overseeing the appropriations portion of the proposal, including money for testing and schools, had pledged on Wednesday night that they would be ready to unveil their portion on Thursday. 

But Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyTrump, Pelosi barrel toward final border wall showdown On The Money: Push for student loan forgiveness puts Biden in tight spot | Trump is wild card as shutdown fears grow | Mnuchin asks Fed to return 5 billion in unspent COVID emergency funds McConnell, Pelosi hunt for funding deal as shutdown deadline looms MORE (R-Ala.) told reporters that it could be delayed until next week and, like McConnell, pointed to the White House as the hold up, which he said was still reviewing text. 

"Could be late today, could be Monday, but we're making progress,” Shelby said.

The White House downplayed potential sticking points that would result in the package being delayed saying they instead wanted to be able to go through final bill line by line. 

"We're looking at text and trying to go through and go line by line to review some of the provisions in there in the proposal," White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsOvernight Defense: Pentagon set for tighter virus restrictions as top officials tests positive | Military sees 11th COVID-19 death | House Democrats back Senate language on Confederate base names Trump administration revives talk of action on birthright citizenship House Democrats back slower timeline for changing Confederate base names MORE told reporters Thursday. 

The days of hold up have opened Republicans up to criticism from Democrats, who characterized them as "disorganized" and in "disarray" for returning to Washington knowing there was a tight timeline without a negotiating offer ready to go. 

"Our Republican colleagues have been so divided, so disorganized, and so unprepared that they have struggled to draft a partisan proposal within their own conference. This is before they talk to a single Democrat. This is before they even consider what the House has done," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration Voters say Biden should make coronavirus vaccine a priority: poll New York City subway service could be slashed 40 percent, officials warn MORE (D-N.Y.) said Thursday. 

Republicans say they still believe Congress will ultimately get an agreement on the next coronavirus package, even if the talks go down to the deadline of the Senate's expected Aug. 7 departure date. 

"I think we'll get something done before it's all said and done,  but like everything else in this process ... it's gonna be loud, messy, appear to be almost doomed on many occasions," said Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks GOP senator congratulates Biden, says Trump should accept results GOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics MORE (R-Fla.) "It's just the way this thing works."