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 McConnellMcConnell backs Garland for attorney general Trump to attend private RNC donor retreat The Patriot Party already exists — it's the Democrats 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 BraunSenate GOP ready to turn page on Trump GOP senators praise impeachment managers but say Trump will be acquitted Senate panel advances Biden's education and labor secretary picks 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 MnuchinOn The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears Mnuchin expected to launch investment fund seeking backing from Persian Gulf region: report Larry Kudlow debuts to big ratings on Fox Business Network 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 RoundsPowell pushes back on GOP inflation fears Overnight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden's .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March 11 GOP senators slam Biden pick for health secretary: 'No meaningful experience' MORE (R-S.D.). "So that’s where it’s at. So, I think it’s being fleshed out."

Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordOvernight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden's .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March 11 GOP senators slam Biden pick for health secretary: 'No meaningful experience' Missouri newspaper hammers Hawley and Blunt: 'Embarrassment to the state' 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 CornynProgressive support builds for expanding lower courts McConnell backs Garland for attorney general Garland seeks to draw sharp contrast with Trump-era DOJ 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 GrassleyYellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation Durbin: Garland likely to get confirmation vote next week Garland says he has not discussed Hunter Biden case with president 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 ShelbyPowell pushes back on GOP inflation fears Former Trump officials eye bids for political office The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - COVID-19 rescue bill a unity test for Dems 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 MeadowsHow scientists saved Trump's FDA from politics Liberals howl after Democrats cave on witnesses Kinzinger calls for people with info on Trump to come forward 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 SchumerCongress holds candlelight vigil for American lives lost to COVID-19 The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Lawmakers investigate Jan. 6 security failures Senate confirms Thomas-Greenfield as UN ambassador 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 RubioSanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack Senate confirms Vilsack as Agriculture secretary DeSantis easily defeats Rubio, Scott in hypothetical presidential primary: poll MORE (R-Fla.) "It's just the way this thing works."