McConnell tees up weekend votes on nominations as coronavirus talks drag

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday teed up votes on seven more nominations amid continuing coronavirus negotiations, signaling to senators that they should prepare to be in Washington, D.C., through the weekend. 

The earliest the Senate could start voting on the nominations is Saturday, absent an agreement to speed them up.

“The Senate’s not going anywhere until we have COVID relief out the door. We’re staying right here until COVID relief is out the door. In the meantime, we’re going to stay productive while these negotiations are going on,” McConnell said from the Senate floor. 

“We should expect continuing votes on nominations throughout the weekend … until we can act on the major rescue package,” McConnell added. 

McConnell teed up votes on a nominee for the district courts, the board of the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Treasury Department inspector general, the Federal Communications Commission and the Court of Federal Claims.

The votes come as leadership has yet to reach an agreement on a sweeping bill to provide coronavirus relief and fund the government through Oct. 1. 

Leaders appeared close to a deal on Wednesday morning, but lawmakers say a host of last-minute snags have cropped up to slow down the talks. The sticking points include how to structure a second round of stimulus checks, a GOP push to formally end an emergency lending facility and aid for entertainment venues. 

Coronavirus relief is tied to a mammoth bill to fund the government through Oct. 1, meaning Congress needs to pass the agreement by the end of Friday.

If they don’t, they will either need to pass a stopgap spending bill or the government will shut down. 

McConnell on Thursday night said talks on the bill were “making progress.” 

“We must not slide into treating these talks like routine negotiations to be conducted at Congress’s routine pace. So we need to complete this work and we need to complete it right away,” McConnell said. 

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