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 RubioFlorida Republicans close ranks with Trump after Capitol siege Confirmation hearing for Biden's DNI pick postponed McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time MORE (R-Fla.) said in a video posted on Twitter

Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes Window quickly closing for big coronavirus deal Trump's controversial Fed nominee stalled after Senate setback 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 ShelbyMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Overnight Defense: Trump impeached for second time | National Guard at Capitol now armed, swelling to 20K troops for inauguration | Alabama chosen for Space Command home Space Command to be located in Alabama 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 McConnellWhat would MLK say about Trump and the Republican Party? Biden's minimum wage push faces uphill battle with GOP GOP senators wrestle with purging Trump from party 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 PelosiWoman accused of trying to sell Pelosi laptop to Russians arrested Conspiracies? Let's investigate this one FBI investigating whether woman took Pelosi laptop, tried to sell it to Russians MORE (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerCowboys for Trump founder arrested following Capitol riot Graham pushes Schumer for vote to dismiss impeachment article Biden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs MORE (D-N.Y.), Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinTreasury imposes additional sanctions on Cuba over allegations of 'serious human rights abuse' Treasury Department sanctions inner circle of Russian agent Derkach for election interference Sanders defends push to impeach Trump: Insurrection won't be tolerated MORE and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsAuthor: Meadows is history's worst White House chief of staff Agency official says Capitol riot hit close to home for former Transportation secretary Chao Republicans wrestle over removing Trump 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 pushes Schumer for vote to dismiss impeachment article Impeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP An attack on America that's divided Congress — and a nation MORE (R-S.C.) initially indicated to reporters that he had talked with Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsSenate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster Security concerns mount ahead of Biden inauguration Trump impeachment collides with Biden's agenda 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 DurbinOfficials brace for second Trump impeachment trial Sunday shows - Capital locked down ahead of Biden's inauguration Durbin says he won't whip votes for Trump's second impeachment trial 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 Grassley3 ways Biden will reshape regulatory policy Biden's minimum wage push faces uphill battle with GOP Impeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP MORE (R-Iowa). 

Asked about the prospects of a coronavirus deal, Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntUS Chamber of Commerce to stop supporting some lawmakers following the Capitol riots Senate to be briefed on inauguration security after Capitol attack This week: Democrats barrel toward Trump impeachment after Capitol attack MORE (R-Mo.) added: “It's up to our Democrat colleagues.”