Washington — The next relief package aimed at responding to the coronavirus pandemic likely won't be passed by the Senate until at least mid-July, Senator John Thune, the second highest-ranking Republican in the upper chamber, said Monday.
Thune, of South Dakota, told reporters at the Capitol that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested a "July time frame" for its next package, likely after the Senate returns to Washington from the two week-long recess that begins July 3 and ends July 17.
Thune said the Senate has a packed calendar for the remainder of June, with the upper chamber set to vote on two of President Trump's nominations to the federal courts of appeals and bipartisan legislation that supports conservation and maintenance projects on federal lands. The Senate Armed Services Committee is also weighing the 2021 defense authorization bill, and several Senate panels are convening for hearings focused on the coronavirus pandemic and nominations.
"I don't know how you can wedge that in there," Thune said of a coronavirus aid package.
Since the coronavirus began its rapid spread across the United States in March, roiling the economy and forcing 40 million out of work, Congress has passed four legislative packages aimed at responding to the pandemic.
The House passed a fifth measure, with a $3 trillion price tag, in mid-May, but it was considered dead on arrival in the Senate.
Thune told reporters that negotiations over the package are ongoing, including what's in the bill and how much it will cost.
Democrats have urged their GOP colleagues to move more swiftly on the next aid package, warning that waiting too long before passing the next measure will have dire consequences for the country.
"If we do nothing, more Americans will lose their jobs. More Americans will lose their health care. More Americans will struggle to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. And more Americans will see the small businesses that they sweated so hard to create fail," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said during remarks on the Senate floor Monday.
Schumer, of New York, urged McConnell and Senate Republicans to move on the next coronavirus relief package before July Fourth.
"There are four weeks remaining before July 4th," he said. "The time for waiting is gone."