Jul 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans criticize their own stimulus bill

Mitch McConnell at a press conference

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Multiple Republicans made clear on Tuesday that they are not on board with several key provisions in the $1 trillion stimulus bill released by Senate GOP leadership Monday. Many said they find the process confusing, messy and not reflective of the Republican conference. 

Why it matters: For a Senate Republican bill, it’s remarkable how many Senate Republicans hate it.

The big picture: The House, Senate and White House still have a long way to go before reaching a compromise on a final bill. But time is running out on many key economic benefits from the CARES Act, and millions of Americans and businesses are relying on Congress to deliver desperately needed aid. 

One key sticking point is that the White House snuck in a $1.75 billion measure for a new FBI building in Washington, D.C., much to the confusion and frustration of many GOP lawmakers — including Trump’s top allies, who say it has nothing to do with the coronavirus.

  • Even Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he didn't know about the measure and that he's opposed to it: "Obviously we had to have an agreement with the administration in order to get started and they’ll have to answer the question of why they insisted on that provision."
  • "I am opposed to non-germane amendments ... When we get to the end of the process I would hope all of the non-COVID-related measures are out," McConnell said after the Senate Republican lunch Tuesday, which White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also attended.

Between the lines: McConnell, as well as other top GOP senators, made clear Tuesday that now that their draft bill is out, it's up to Meadows and Mnuchin — not GOP leadership — to negotiate with Democrats.

  • This is in part a reflection of the frustration many Senate Republicans feel toward the White House, which they think undermined and ultimately delayed the negotiating process.

 What they're saying:

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.): “That makes no sense to me. ... I’d be fine, okay with stripping [the FBI provision] out."
  • Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.): “That was an administration request. … I think some of them will have trouble with that.”
  • Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.): “It’s a mess. I can’t figure out what this bill’s about. ... This is not going to be the bill. They’re going to go negotiate with Pelosi. We have no idea what the final bill will be, and we’ll be the last to know.”

The other side: "There are a number of things in the last bill that had nothing to do with the coronavirus. I think everybody acknowledges that it's a funding mechanism. And I don't see it standing in the way of us getting a deal," Meadows told reporters.

The bottom line: The bill is largely seen as the last chance to move big legislation before the Nov. 3 election — another obstacle that adds to the competing interests of lawmakers on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Go deeper: Senate Republicans grow weary with White House over stimulus bill

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