Despite marathon negotiations, lawmakers missed their own deadline of wrapping up legislation before the end of the weekend. The scale of the package — which has grown by over a trillion dollars over the course of several days — underscores the recognition of the urgency brought on by the accelerating spread of the coronavirus pandemic that has all but shuttered the American economy over the last week.
The major holdup appeared to be roughly $500 billion in funds for loans and loan guarantees for distressed companies, states and localities without enough guidelines or oversight to satisfy Democrats, who seek to prevent bailout for large companies without ensuring that most of the benefits will go to the workers.
But pushback from Democrats also has centered on not only the substance of the legislation, but on the process that Republicans used to come up with it as well, arguing that they were locked out of negotiations at the start.
“I think there’s a good chance we’ll have an agreement. But we don’t need artificial deadlines. We will get this done. We will come in at noon and hopefully we will have an agreement by then,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who made the objection, said on the Senate floor.
McConnell blasted Schumer’s move as reckless and warned the markets will now be open for three hours before they can get some certainty a stimulus bill will pass the Senate.
A vote in the Senate is now expected at 1 p.m.
Senate Democrats, who have argued Republicans are prioritizing corporate industry over American workers in the legislation, lined up against an earlier procedural vote to advance the bill Sunday. The vote’s failure underscored a tense divide between Republicans and Democrats as the country grapples with the impact of coronavirus and raised fresh uncertainty over whether and when lawmakers will strike a bipartisan deal.
The far-reaching stimulus bill is poised to be the most significant legislative response to fallout from the pandemic so far. Lawmakers have already passed two other major legislative packages in response to the outbreak, and the current legislation is being referred to as “phase three” in the legislative response.
Republicans have argued that Democrats are stalling critical economic relief amid the devastating spread of coronavirus. McConnell was visibly frustrated when he spoke on the Senate floor directly after the procedural vote failed, criticizing Democrats for holding up the push to move forward with a stimulus package.
“We’re fiddling here. Fiddling with the emotions of the American people, fiddling with the markets, fiddling with our health care. The American people expect us to act tomorrow and I want everyone to fully understand if we aren’t able to act tomorrow it will be because of our colleagues on the other side continuing to dicker when the country expects us to come together and address this problem,” McConnell said.
For now, though, negotiations are continuing with both sides saying they hope to pass a bill as quickly as possible.
“Leader Schumer and Secretary Mnuchin are working late into the night, and they just had another productive meeting,” a spokesman for Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement after the pair’s fourth meeting Sunday night.
After the vote failed earlier that evening, Schumer said that “negotiations are continuing,” but warned that there were still major “problems” in the legislation. Even so, he said that he believes the disagreements could be resolved within the next 24 hours.
“The bipartisan negotiations on this package continue even as we speak,” Schumer said, “The bill can and must continue to improve. We’re closer than we’ve been at any time over the past 48 hours to an agreement, but there are still too many problems in the proposed legislation. Can we overcome the remaining disagreements in the next 24 hours? Yes, we can and we should.”
Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois said in his own remarks on the Senate floor Sunday evening, “I do believe we can close this deal. I don’t know if it can be done tonight. I pray that it will be,” adding, “Let’s get this done.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Monday.
CNN’s Phil Mattingly contributed to this report.