Hawley warns he could hold up stopgap bill as shutdown looms
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is warning that he could prevent the passage of a stopgap bill to keep the government funded.
Hawley, speaking to reporters, vented frustration that he was “in the dark” about the sweeping package being negotiated by leadership that would tie year-end coronavirus relief with a bill to fund the government.
“I’d like to see some indication of what we’re moving toward. … So I’m not going to allow a CR to go through until I know what’s actually in the package,” Hawley said, referring to a continuing resolution.
“I’m not willing to just sit by and be told nothing and be given no information and just be asked to do as you’re told,” Hawley said.
When a reporter noted that he sounded frustrated, Hawley said the situation was “beginning to reach the point of absurdity” and that it was “time for leadership to put on the table what they’ve got.”
Congress has until the end of Friday to prevent a government shutdown, with top GOP senators saying they expect to need a days-long CR. Because leadership is facing a time crunch they will need signoff from every senator to agree to speed up a stopgap bill and pass a CR in time to prevent a shutdown.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) warned reporters this week that he thought a senator could block passage of a CR ahead of Friday’s deadline.
“I mean I’ve already — I know people who are gonna object to that, that want to keep pressure on the process until we get a deal,” he said.
Hawley’s remarks come after he tried to pass his bill to provide a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks but was blocked by GOP Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.), who cited concerns that coronavirus relief needed to be targeted and warned about concerns over the deficit.
Hawley and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are teaming up to make the push for a second round of stimulus checks as either a stand-alone bill or as part of a year-end deal on coronavirus assistance and government funding. They are expected to try for a second time on Friday to pass their stimulus checks proposal.
Leadership is still haggling over a sweeping package on COVID-19 relief and a bill to fund the government until Oct. 1.
They had hoped to announce an agreement days ago but instead have been bogged down in several eleventh-hour sticking points.
Hawley accused leadership of creating a “self-inflicted wound” by waiting until the last minute to start negotiating.
“The direct assistance thing for me remains absolutely vital and I want to know that it’s gonna be in a relief package and I want to know what the levels are,” he said. “Here we are up against the deadline with a totally self-inflicted wound that is — that frankly is… I can’t think of anything nice to say so I’ll stop there.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Friday that he was “more optimistic” about the chances of getting a deal.
But Democrats are warning that Republicans are trying to get a provision into the bill to shut down federal emergency lending facilities created under the CARES Act, a move Democrats view as a poison pill.
“An agreement was in sight to deliver aid to the American people until Sen. Toomey and Republicans inserted an eleventh hour purely political, unrelated provision to tie Biden’s hands and risk throwing the economy into a tailspin,” a senior Democratic aide said.
“The Toomey provision would be an unprecedented change to the law to strip the Fed chair of one of their most important tools to quickly respond to any future economic crisis,” the source added.
In addition to formally shutting down the CARES-created lending facilities, Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-Pa.) proposal would also prevent the incoming Biden administration from starting a similar program.
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