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 McConnellOn The Money: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process on Wednesday | Four states emerge as test case for cutting off jobless benefits GOP senator: I want to make Biden a 'one-half-term president' McConnell presses for 'actual consequences' in disclosure of tax data MORE (R-Ky.) said key senators will instead unveil it Monday, pointing at the White House as the reason behind the delay.


"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 BraunIU parents protest school's vaccine mandates Rick Scott introduces bill banning 'vaccine passports' for domestic flights Braun-McConnell bill would protect Americans from IRS surveillance 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 MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says MORE declared that the administration and the Senate GOP caucus had reached a "fundamental agreement." 


“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 RoundsTrump, midterms fuel GOP's effort to quash Jan. 6 commission Senate GOP blocks legislation on Jan. 6 commission Senate votes to advance China bill after Schumer strikes deal MORE (R-S.D.). "So that’s where it’s at. So, I think it’s being fleshed out."

Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordSenate passes resolution condemning recent rise in antisemitic attacks Police reform negotiations enter crucial stretch GOP turns against Jan. 6 probe as midterm distraction 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 CornynSenate passes bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday Harris calls for pathway to citizenship for Dreamers on DACA anniversary Senate confirms Garland's successor to appeals court 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 GrassleyChuck GrassleyOn The Money: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process on Wednesday | Four states emerge as test case for cutting off jobless benefits McConnell presses for 'actual consequences' in disclosure of tax data First major Democrat announces 2022 bid for Iowa governor 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.


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 ShelbyGAO rules Biden freeze on border wall funds legal The tale of the last bipartisan unicorns The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Bipartisan group reaches infrastructure deal; many questions remain 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 MeadowsTrump, allies pressured DOJ to back election claims, documents show Trump endorsement shakes up GOP Senate primary in NC Biden's no-drama White House chief 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 SchumerOvernight Energy: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process Wednesday | Bipartisan bill would ban 'forever chemicals' in cosmetics | Biden admin eyes step toward Trump-era proposal for uranium reserve GOP senator: I want to make Biden a 'one-half-term president' How Biden can get the infrastructure bill through Congress 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 RubioPast criticism of Trump becomes potent weapon in GOP primaries Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cybersecurity during summit with Putin Five years after the Pulse nightclub massacre the fight for LGBTQ+ rights continues MORE (R-Fla.) "It's just the way this thing works."