Senate Democrats are justifying their support for a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill as a “do…

Senate Democrats are justifying their support for a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill as a down payment on a larger relief bill they hope to pass next year.
The dilemma from their perspective is that Republicans are signaling they dont want to pass another measure to stimulate the economy after President Biden takes office and the GOP may continue to hold the Senate majority in January.
I dont see it that way, said Senate Republican John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneOn The Money: Fight over Federal Reserve powers holding up year-end deal | Congress set to blow past shutdown deadline amid coronavirus talks | Experts say stimulus deal could head off double-dip recession Congress set to blow past shutdown deadline amid coronavirus talksOvernight Health Care: FDA panel endorses Moderna COVID-19 vaccine | Governors say the CDC is cutting vaccine allocations | Top GOP senator warns of potential for brief shutdownMORE (S.D.) when asked about the Democrats characterization of the emerging $900 billion deal as a down payment.
Well have to wait and kind of see what circumstances are like, said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSen. Alexander plays Christmas carols in Senate office buildingSweeping COVID-19, spending deal hits speed bumpsSenate GOP to Trump: The election is overMORE (R-Texas), an adviser to the Senate GOP leadership. Hopefully with more people getting vaccinated, more people getting back to work and the economy opening up there will be less need for Congress to come in.
Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamRep.-elect Issa says Trump should attend Biden inaugurationHillicon Valley: Texas, other states bring antitrust lawsuit against Google | Krebs emphasizes security of the election as senators butt heads | Twitter cracks down on coronavirus vaccine misinformationFake accounts posing as GOP leaders on Parler are selling Trump hats and CBD oil: reportMORE (R-S.C.) said we dont know what next year holds.
There may some things we need to do next year, he added. We dont know how quickly the vaccine gets out, how well does it work.
Senate Republicans in March and April, shortly after Congress passed the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, said another round of federal aid would be likely.
Nine months later, with the $900 billion bill expected to pass before Christmas, GOP lawmakers are sounding much more skeptical about passing another relief package over the next year.
The incoming administration is viewing it as something they can do now and they come back at this next year. A lot of it probably depends on what happens in Georgia, said Thune, referring to two Senate runoff races in Georgia scheduled for Jan. 5 that will decide if Republicans keep their Senate majority next year. Democrats must win both races to retake the majority.
A number of Republicans are describing the bill now being negotiated as a bridge to when the economy will bounce back as people get vaccinated, not as a down payment.
Thune said if Congress addresses the nations needs now and things improve next year as the vaccine gets out there and the economy starts to pick up again, there may be less of a need.
Senate conservatives are sounding a decidedly skeptical tone on another package.
Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Mastercard – Congress slogs toward COVID-19 relief, omnibus dealKrebs emphasizes security of election as senators butt headsRand Paul claims election ‘in many ways was stolen’ during Krebs hearingMORE (R-Wis.), who helped steer the Senate GOP conference to support a $500 billion relief proposal in the late summer after they first unveiled a $1.1 trillion relief proposal at the end of July, said the pending $900 billion is too expensive.
Johnson said its unbelievable to think of it as a down payment.
I think our targeted bill is more than adequate, he said. We shouldnt be scattering [money] with a shotgun approach, just providing all kinds of money to all kinds of people.
I think this pandemic will be over before more people realize, he added. We didnt have to spend $900 billion.
President-elect Biden, in contrast, has spoken of the coming package as hes sought to coax Democrats to back it. Most Democrats are disappointed at the size of the package.
Biden on Wednesday said the emerging deal is a down payment, an important down payment on whats going to have to be done beginning the end of January into February.
The emerging deal is expected to include more than $250 billion for another round of Paycheck Protection Program small-business loans, more than $150 billion in direct stimulus checks, 16 weeks of $300-per-week supplemental federal unemployment assistance as well as money for vaccine distribution, contact tracing and to help schools and colleges reopen.
New funding for small-business loans, school re-openings, vaccine distribution, protective equipment for health care providers, virus testing and relief funding for hard-hit industries such as the airlines are Senate Republicans top priorities.
Those items are expected to be included in the emerging deal. Once that relief is signed into law, Republicans will have less incentive to agree to another deal anytime soon.
Biden acknowledges in a new campaign ad for the Democratic Senate candidates in Georgia, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, that he may not be able to pass another relief deal if Republicans keep control of the Senate.
There are folks in Congress threatening to do everything in their power to block our efforts, Biden tells viewers in the ad, which aired Thursday.
The brewing Republican opposition to passing another large COVID-19 relief deal early in the new Biden administration raises the stakes of the Jan. 5 runoffs in Georgia. 
If Democrats failed to win both and flip control of the Senate, Biden could face a very tough path to passing another large relief bill.
Democrats realize this and are pushing hard against language sought by Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyGovernment used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019Appeals court rules NSA’s bulk phone data collection illegalDunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panelMORE (R-Pa.) to rescind funding for and bring to a close the credit facilities established by the Federal Reserve under authority provided by the CARES Act.
Toomey worries that Democrats may try to morph that authority to use Fed facilities to bail out states and municipalities.
A Democratic senator said preserving the Federal Reserves power to stabilize the economy is one of the things were talking about behind the scenes.
If we dont win Georgia and dont get another package next year, were going to want the Fed to have as much flexibility as possible, said the lawmaker.
Even now there is strong Republican opposition to a proposal to distribute up to $90 billion in federal aid to state and local governments through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which some GOP lawmakers suspect is a way to get around the decision to leave new state and local funding out of the deal.
I dont think that people want to view that as a conduit to get state and local dollars out there that had previously been rejected, Thune said Thursday.