The delay has led many lawmakers–Republicans and Democrats alike–to voice frustration.
Republican leaders in the Senate have delayed the announcement of another coronavirus stimulus package until at least Monday.
The delay comes despite White House officials claiming that they came to an agreement on the package’s details.
According to CNN, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin “emerged from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office on Thursday,” announcing that the White House had reached a deal with the Upper House’s Republican leadership. The total cost of the package is estimated at $1 trillion.
However, neither Mnuchin nor White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were willing to divulge details on which provisions, exactly, the stimulus bill contains.
The apparent delay purportedly came as something as a surprise to rank-and-file conservatives, who spent much of Thursday under the impression that the bill would be unveiled, piece-by-piece, later the same day.
Sources have told media outlets—like CNN and the New York Times—that delay is due to disagreement between the White House and Senate Republicans on the future of enhanced unemployment benefits. Since the end of March, Americans unemployed due to coronavirus-related reasons have been eligible to receive $600 per week, on top of their standard state benefits, from the federal government.
But those enhanced benefits are set to expire by July 31st; in most states, they end on the 25th.
Republicans have repeatedly argued that $600 per week payments create a disincentive for many low-wage-earners to return to work. Nevertheless, it appears that conservatives have, tentatively, agreed to at least a two month extension of benefits, albeit likely with a lower weekly pay-out.
Regardless, McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said the full proposal will be revealed Monday.
“The administration has requested additional time to review the fine details, but we will be laying down this proposal early next week,” he said.
Similar to Thursday’s initial plan, McConnell said that Republican senators will reveal their proposals piece-by-piece next week.
“The sum of these efforts,” he said, “will be a strong, targeted piece of legislation aimed directly at the challenges we face right now.”
The New York Times notes that the bill’s uncertain future has caused consternation across both sides of the political aisle. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for instance, had invited Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to her weekly news conference on Thursday, anticipating that the two would “[offer] a unified Democratic rebuttal to the Republican plan.”
Schumer accused Republicans of wasting time—a dangerous decision, given high unemployment and benefits’ expiration at the end of next week.
“Now that Senate Republicans have finally woken up to the calamity in our country, they have been so divided, so disorganized, so unprepared that they have struggled to even draft a partisan proposal within their own conference,” Sen. Schumer (D-NY) said. “They can’t come together.”
Likewise, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, told reporters she wished she knew more about the plan and its release.
“Not a dang thing do I have for you—seriously,” she said around noon on Thursday. “I was really hoping to be able to report to Alaskans what the contours of the Republican plan were. Now I won’t be able to, unless there’s something that comes out in the news.”
But White House officials insisted that, no matter the current state of affairs, they still believe the looming expiration of unemployment benefits will force quick negotiations and a rapid resolution.
“Those deadlines, as you well know, on Capitol Hill always work magic in the 11th hour,” Meadows said.