Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell waited until a key component of U.S. coronavirus aid was about to expire before drafting the Republican version of the next major relief bill, a decision that is increasingly looking like a significant miscalculation.

Soaring numbers of virus cases, rising jobless claims and President Donald Trump’s slumping poll numbers have left McConnell in the rare position of struggling to unite Republicans behind a $1 trillion plan as the $600-a-week federal boost to unemployment insurance expires.

It’s a time crunch of their own making. Republicans and Trump squabbled all week over the details of the plan, forcing McConnell to delay the release of the GOP proposal until Monday. That gives Congress little time to avoid a lapse in the unemployment aid.

The expiration is now less of an inducement to get Democrats to the negotiating table than a potential albatross they will try to drape around the necks of endangered Senate Republicans.

There were signs of frustration among some of McConnell’s colleagues.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin touted a “fundamental agreement” among Republicans on a package of spending and tax cuts, and some Republican senators said they were expecting to see bills released as soon as Thursday. When it was clear that wasn’t going to happen, they waited for details at lunch.

Instead, they got alligator sausages courtesy of Louisiana Senator John Kennedy and little more.

“We talked about Louisiana and alligators,” South Dakota Republican Senator Mike Rounds said. “Honestly. We say, ‘Mitch what do you got?’ And he said, ‘We’re working on it. Not much to report yet, but we’re working on it.’”

Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican who opposes the stimulus plan, said after the lunch that “We just found out that we weren’t going to find anything out.”

Senators left Washington for the weekend with no bill text and plenty of details still to iron out. Even once that’s done, McConnell still needs agreement from Democrats, who’ve proposed spending $2.5 trillion more than the GOP on a broader swath of initiatives.

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