Capitol Report: Trump, top Republican lawmakers don’t support House Democrats’ coronavirus bill

A wide-ranging coronavirus bill from House Democrats appeared on Thursday to face a tough path to becoming law, as President Donald Trump and the top Republicans in the House and Senate said they didn’t support the legislation.

At the same time, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican, signaled a willingness to work toward a compromise measure and not go on an upcoming weeklong break.

“I think we can get this done in the next 48 hours,” McCarthy said at a news conference.

Trump, for his part, accused Democrats of putting “goodies” in the bill, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the measure as an “ideological wish list that was not tailored closely to the circumstances.” McConnell, speaking on the Senate floor, said the legislation could lead to a “needless thicket of new bureaucracy” and “permanent unfunded mandates on businesses,” adding that the Republican-led chamber was ready to work on a bipartisan measure once “House Democrats decide to get serious.”

Before his morning news conference, McCarthy tweeted that the legislation backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat, is “not only completely partisan” but also “unworkable.”

The package from Pelosi and her colleagues aims to expand unemployment insurance and provide paid sick leave for people affected by the novel coronavirus causing the disease COVID-19, among other measures. It also would provide free testing for the disease and “strengthened food security,” such as allowing for school lunches to be served outside of the school day.

Pelosi said Thursday that she has been negotiating with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and indicated that the Democratic-controlled House still planned to approve the legislation on Thursday afternoon.

“We’re here to pass a bill,” she said.

Related:Mnuchin says broad economic response to coronavirus will have to wait, backs smaller plan

The Democrats’ measure, known as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, “focuses almost entirely on individual-level responses, and in our view is an effort to lay out a marker before negotiations over a final package begin in the coming days,” said Height Capital Markets analysts in a note.

“Today will be a long one and we could very easily see the House vote on this package and leave town without coordinating first with a unified Republican caucus,” said Henrietta Treyz, director of economic policy at Veda Partners, in a note. She also estimated that the bill’s price tag was below $100 billion.

U.S. stocks SPX, -4.72%DJIA, -4.98% were plunging again Thursday amid coronavirus-related worries. The reviews on Wall Street to Trump’s Wednesday night speech on the outbreak were not kind, with analysts criticizing him for blaming Europe and for his proposed “vague payroll tax holiday.”