Senate Republicans criticized their party’s own coronavirus relief bill in public comments and during a private lunch with Senate GOP leadership on Tuesday.
The disagreements could make negotiations with House Democrats over the legislation even more tricky, with enhanced federal unemployment benefits set to end on July 31 and a moratorium on evictions for renters already expired. The GOP legislation is set to cost $1 trillion overall, with additional $1,200 checks to be sent to American taxpayers and enhanced federal unemployment benefits of $200 per week.
However, the bill also includes $1.75 billion for a new building to house FBI headquarters, and some senators indicated that they weren’t yet sure what the bill even contains.
“We have unity in disagreement,” Senator John Kennedy (R., La.) reportedly said during the GOP lunch. Later in the day Kennedy quipped, “I’m not going to vote for a bill in the name of unity when I don’t know what’s in the damn thing.”
Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) told reporters, “It’s a mess. I can’t figure out what this bill is about. I don’t know what we’re trying to accomplish with it.”
Other Republicans voiced discomfort with funding for the FBI building, with Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) calling it “kind of a strange addition” to the coronavirus package. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, however, deemed funding for the building a “pressing need.”
Legislators are attempting to negotiate a new relief package before Congress goes on a month-long recess beginning August 7.