WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – The Senate is due to vote this week on a “lean” $ 500 billion economic recovery bill that does not appear to include an additional $ 1,200 round of direct payments to Americans.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his intention to vote on Wednesday. He says the bill will include money for schools, increased unemployment benefits and additional funding for the paycheck protection program
“No one thinks this more than $ 500 billion proposal would solve all the problems forever,” McConnell said in a statement on Saturday. “It would bring huge amounts of extra help to workers and families right now, while Washington continues to argue for the rest.”
The “skinny” bill is in stark contrast to a much larger package that would include additional direct payments of $ 1,200 pushed by President Donald Trump and show a wedge not only between Democrats and Republicans – but within the GOP leadership.
When the Senate votes this week on the measure, it will be largely symbolic. Democrats have publicly stated that they are not interested in a smaller approach to tackling viruses.
Last month, Democrats obstructed a GOP-drafted aid bill that did not include another round of direct payments to Americans, and recent talks on a broader deal between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, failed. a lot of progress.
Mnuchin last told CNBC that a coronavirus relief bill announced ahead of the election could be problematic, if not unlikely.
“At this point, it will be difficult to do something before the election and execute it,” Mnuchin said.
Mnuchin said progress has been made on some issues, but on other issues they “continue to be very distant.”
“Let’s not wait for the big bang where everything is perfect,” Mnuchin told CNBC. “I don’t agree with the President’s approach that we have to do all or nothing. We continue to negotiate a comprehensive bill, but we want to invest money in the economy now.
According to the Washington Post, Pelosi and Mnuchin continued talks on Saturday on a spending deal between $ 1.8 and $ 2.2 trillion. Trump has said he will support even more and noted during Thursday’s town hall with NBC that Republicans “would agree to this.”
“They will go,” he told moderator Savannah Guthrie. “I didn’t ask them because I can’t go through Nancy Pelosi.”
Right now, GOP senators being ready to “go” don’t seem likely.
McConnell and his colleagues in the Senate have expressed little or no interest in a bill larger than the roughly $ 500 billion proposal that they will implement. Many political insiders speculate that Republican lawmakers are concerned about cutting a major spending bill with the polarizing Pelosi just weeks before Senate control is put in the hands of voters.
On a related note, pundits wonder if Pelosi would strike a deal with Republicans less than three weeks before a close presidential election. While the stimulus checks were largely pushed by Democrats, they could also be seen as a victory for the president. When the first set of checks were distributed, Trump’s signature was on each of the payments. If Trump was able to get a second round of relief distributed as people went to the polls for an early vote, that would certainly be bragging about ahead of the election.
“A fly on the wall or wherever it might land in the Oval Office tells me the president only wants her name on a check before election day and the market goes up,” Pelosi said in a letter to her. colleagues last week.
She defended her tough stance, saying Democrats carry more clout than ever. But the risk of emerging empty-handed until next year seems very real.
Discussions over the last potential COVID relief cycle began in July, collapsed in August, and was relaunched last month. Two weeks ago, we saw Trump derail the talks, only to restart them as the weekend approaches. They then crumbled again last weekend after Trump’s latest $ 1.8 trillion proposal was violently pulled by Democrats and Trump’s GOP allies.
Republicans are back to offer smaller, targeted aid that would allow party members at risk to re-declare themselves in favor of aid, even if he’s a non-beginner with Democrats and against Trump.
“What I hear from Senator McConnell is again take a little bite and be satisfied. What I hear from the president just the opposite, ”said Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill. “Can the two sit down and be okay?” Wouldn’t that be a breakthrough?
Some Democrats are convinced Joe Biden is on the verge of taking over the White House and pressured Pelosi to strike a less ambitious deal that would provide aid now rather than let the economy continue to struggle unaided until. ‘see you next year. Pelosi’s response has been to hear statements from a host of committee chairs criticizing the administration’s latest offer.
“If Congress does not act, the next president will inherit a mess,” said Harvard economist Jason Furman, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama. “If Mnuchin’s offer could be passed by the Senate – which is a huge ‘if’ – it would be much better than waiting for more in January.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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