GOP senators say coronavirus deal dead until after election

Republican senators on Thursday declared a fifth coronavirus relief bill all but dead, the latest signal that Congress is unlikely to pass any further pandemic assistance before the November election.

Senate Democrats on Thursday rejected a pared down GOP relief bill brought to the floor amid a weeks-long stalemate in discussions between congressional Democrats and the White House that shows no signs of breaking.

GOP senators after the vote expressed pessimism about the possibility of getting a deal in the coming months.


"Congress is not going to pass another COVID relief bill before the election," Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio wants 'UFO sightings' to be registered, taken seriously Strange bedfellows: UFOs are uniting Trump's fiercest critics, loyalists Second suspected 'Havana Syndrome' case near White House under investigation: report MORE (R-Fla.) said in a video posted on Twitter

Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate GOP faces retirement brain drain Roy Blunt won't run for Senate seat in 2022 Lobbying world MORE (R-Kan.) said that the coronavirus talks were at a "dead end street."

Asked if it was unlikely Congress would pass another coronavirus relief bill before the election, Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Biden officials testify that white supremacists are greatest domestic security threat Republicans embrace Trump in effort to reclaim Senate MORE (R-Ala.) said, "it looks that way." 

Thursday marked the first vote on a coronavirus package the chamber has taken since April. The bill included a $300 per week federal unemployment benefit, another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding, money for testing and schools and liability protections against coronavirus-related lawsuits. 

Asked what the next step is, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Trump signals he's ready to get back in the game Manchin, Murkowski call for bipartisan Voting Rights Act reauthorization MORE (R-Ky.) punted the question to Democrats. 

"[But] it makes you believe they really don't want to do another proposal. They want to wait until after the election and play games with this," McConnell said during an interview with Fox News. 


Both sides say they are still interested in getting an agreement on another sweeping bill to help boost the economy and counter the devastating health impacts of the virus, which has killed approximately 191,000 people in the United States. 

But neither appears to be willing to take the first step needed to break the logjam.

Talks between House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate House extends proxy voting to July On The Money: IRS to start monthly payments of child tax credit July 15 | One-fourth of Americans took financial hits in 2020: Fed MORE (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Pro-tax millionaires protesting in front of Bezos's homes Student debt cancellation advocates encouraged by Biden, others remain skeptical MORE (D-N.Y.), 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 and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsBoehner finally calls it as he sees it Stephen Miller launching group to challenge Democrats' policies through lawsuits A year with the coronavirus: How we got here MORE derailed in early August amid deep divisions over both the price tag of the bill and significant policy differences like unemployment insurance and more money for state and local governments. 

Democrats have offered to come down to $2.2 trillion, after House Democrats passed a $3.4 trillion bill in May. Senate Republicans offered an initial $1.1 trillion bill in late July, though Mnuchin has said they could come up to $1.5 trillion. But Republicans have rejected a request from Pelosi and Schumer that they increase their offer to $2 trillion — something administration officials and GOP senators have dismissed as a non-starter. 

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: 'I accept the results of the election' Juan Williams: The GOP's losing bet on Trump Pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood causes headache for GOP in key S.C. race MORE (R-S.C.) initially indicated to reporters that he had talked with Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Israel-Hamas carnage worsens; Dems face SALT dilemma Schumer in bind over fight to overhaul elections New York, New Jersey, California face long odds in scrapping SALT  MORE (D-Del.) about trying to get a bipartisan gang together to try to figure out a way to break the impasse and reach a deal on a bipartisan package. He later clarified that such a group did not currently exist. 

“I don’t know if there’s a market for that,” he said. “Now, there’s no gang, but Coons and I both said you know we ought to be able to find a way forward.” 

Democrats have remained united against the GOP bill, arguing it was never meant to pass but instead let Republicans say they had voted for something in the final weeks before the November election.  

Schumer, speaking to reporters Thursday, also predicted that political pressure would eventually force Republicans back to the negotiating table. 

"Each time McConnell said, it's our bill or nothing, when it was a bill without any input from Democrats, when the bill was defeated they came back and we actually got some bipartisan stuff done. I would hope they would do that,” Schumer said. 

Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Manchin, Murkowski call for bipartisan Voting Rights Act reauthorization Schumer in bind over fight to overhaul elections MORE (D-Ill.), Schumer's No. 2, said the talks get unstuck "when enough Republican senators are worried about their reelection." 

"I can't believe that those that are in tough shape believe that this McConnell vote today is all they need for the rest of the election cycle," Durbin said. 

Asked whether it was unlikely that the Senate would return to pass something before the election after leaving town in October, Durbin added: "I would agree with that. We better get this done in the next two or three weeks." 


The Senate is scheduled to leave in early October until after the election. The House's schedule is even tighter: They will return Monday and are expected to leave by Oct. 2.  

But as Democrats say they are waiting for Republicans to return to the negotiating table, GOP senators say whether there will be a deal is up to Democrats. 

“It looks like they don't want to get to an agreement. ... So my guess is, as of now, unless Pelosi changes her mind and talks to the White House, there's not gonna be anything done,” said Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyConservatives launch 'anti-cancel culture' advocacy organization Lawmakers bicker over how to go after tax cheats On The Money: Biden says workers can't turn down job and get benefits | Treasury launches state and local aid | Businesses jump into vax push MORE (R-Iowa). 

Asked about the prospects of a coronavirus deal, Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntMissouri Republicans move to block Greitens in key Senate race On The Money: Biden, Senate GOP take step toward infrastructure deal as other plans hit speed bumps Senate GOP to give Biden infrastructure counteroffer next week MORE (R-Mo.) added: “It's up to our Democrat colleagues.”