Congressional negotiators reached bipartisan agreement on a $2 trillion stimulus package in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, but the measure providing aid to individuals and businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic is not likely to reach President Donald Trump’s desk before Thursday at the earliest.
As Wednesday morning started giving way to the afternoon, lawmakers were still waiting to see the bill’s text. In announcing the deal early Wednesday, negotiators said they were still finalizing some of the language.
The Senate plans to vote on the measure Wednesday, according to a notice from Majority Whip John Thune. But the exact timing of that vote was unclear since the bill would need to be ready and members would need time to review the currently 619-page document before voting.
In his remarks at the opening of the chamber’s session on Wednesday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the Senate would vote on the relief package sometime during the day, but that exact timing is still under discussion between him and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer.
With conference calls planned throughout the afternoon on the package, a vote later in the day or into the evening seems most likely.
The timing of a House vote obviously depends on when the Senate acts.
“We’ll see the bill, and see when the Senate votes. So there’s no decision about timing until we see the bill,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Wednesday on her way into the Capitol.
In a sign that a House vote is unlikely on Wednesday, the chamber adjourned after a brief pro forma session instead of recessing subject to the call of the chair. The next House pro forma session is scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said in a “Dear Colleague” letter sent to House Democrats just before 1 p.m. Wednesday that the Senate was still working on legislative text for the bipartisan agreement reached early that morning.
House committee chairs will brief members on what is known about the agreement in a series of conference calls Wednesday, the Maryland Democrat said.
“Before we can determine when and how the House will consider this legislation, we must have the final legislative text and clear direction on when the Senate will vote,” Hoyer said. “I remain committed to giving House members 24 hours’ notice before the House acts.”
The 24 hour notice would apply to any House action on the measure, including a UC or voice vote, a Hoyer aide said.
The House, unlike the Senate, is in an extended district work period and most of its members are not in Washington.
Democratic leaders want to try to get support for a unanimous consent vote so they do not need to call members back to the Capitol for a roll call vote, but any one member can object and block a UC vote.
Republican leaders acknowledge that a UC may be difficult to allow for some for their members and are pushing for a voice vote, which would technically allow lawmakers who oppose the bill to say they dissented. However, any member can also object to a voice vote by asking for the “yeas” and “nays.”
Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report.