What’s going on with stimulus, House Majority Leader has recessed the floor until Five P.M. today, so nothing is going on on the House floor right now, why?
Because they are feverishly trying to get this done today, government funding and stimulus. Will it happen? I don’t know, bad news is that Number Two Republican in the Senate, John Thune, said after he left Mitch McConnell’s office this afternoon that he, Thune, doesn’t believe there will be a COVID deal today and thinks this may even drag on into next week. But they’re pushing for it, and if at least a stopgap measure doesn’t get done today, passed by both houses, and signed into law by the President by midnight, government will shut down.
Thune was even kind of negative about a stopgap because he said well look any one senator can shut that down to force us to take action, I’m thinking in particular maybe somebody like Bernie Sanders or Josh Hawley. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told members of the house to keep their schedule free for the next few days to pass government funding and COVID-19 relief, so yes, they’re pushing to get this done today, but there is this reasonable expectation that they will not be able to and will need more time over the weekend and even into early next week, the week of Christmas. Pelosi and McConnell, who both received doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine today, as did Mike Pence, by the way, Pelosi and McConnell spoke at approximately 1 P.M. Eastern Time today and agreed that staff need to close out the agreement in the next three to four hours, this is why Nancy Pelosi postponed her morning press conference to 2 PM Eastern Time today and then postponed it again, and that is why the House floor was shut down. Now, Pelosi and McConnell said OK let’s put this all together in the next three or four hours, but that’s obviously an incredibly short timeline to get something like this done with all the remaining outstanding items, probably not gonna happen, especially with this new elephant in the room like I told you in my video this morning, which is Republican Senator Pat Toomey pursuing scaling back the Federal Reserve lending facilities.
Mnuchin a few weeks ago said he would shut down these programs by the end of the year, he asked the Fed for the money back, we covered this in detail previously here on the channel, but now Toomey wants to go further than this by preventing the Fed from restarting these lending programs next year, which Democrats believe would take away some levers that could be used when Biden takes office to inject more credit into the economy if need be.
Democrats are saying what Toomey and Republicans want to do here in terms of limiting the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending facilities is too broad, they are calling it an “extreme demand” and a “poison pill” and they are in fact blaming this issue for delaying a final deal being reached. I think part of this here is that one of these lending facilities is intended for state and local governments to essentially borrow money, and Dems feel, well if we’re giving up that big top line on state and local, we have to at least fight for this.
House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal today issued a statement saying, “Senate Republicans are now holding up the entire package over this unacceptable provision designed to sabotage the economic recovery under the Biden administration.”
Toomey shot back with a statement of his own claiming that the language that Republicans are pushing for with respect to the Federal Reserve affects a very narrow universe of lending facilities and is emphatically not a broad overhaul of the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending authority.
It’s really hard to say who’s right or even what exactly they’re thinking here without seeing actual language of a bill, right? But this has turned out to be a major sticking point so far. Also, in Republicans’ continued attempt to whittle down unemployment benefits in the next relief bill, they already want to slash it to as little as ten weeks potentially, we’ll see how successful the Dems are at pushing back on that, but there’s a new report going around that the Republicans are trying to include language to make the unemployment benefits fade out gradually, I don’t have any more details there, that potentially could be interpreted as, oh, OK yeah you get three hundred dollars a week beginning in January but based on metrics or something like this that payment will be reduced gradually over X number of weeks.
So it’s really down to the wire here, will we see a government shutdown, I hope not, both House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, top Republican in the House, and Steny Hoyer, number two Democrat in the House, have expressed that they do not want to see a shutdown, and Steny Hoyer said, “We’re going to keep the government open.”
That said, experts are saying that a shutdown that only lasts over the weekend would not be a huge deal, but if a shutdown lasts into Monday, which is obviously a working day, that would be more problematic. That said, there’s a minority of members of Congress who feel that by not passing a stopgap measure for a few days to keep the government funded, that puts pressure on those in Congress to actually make a deal and not just keep giving themselves another few days to get stuff done, but it seems that the top brass here doesn’t feel that way, they want to avoid a shutdown if possible even if that means passing another stopgap measure, mini-continuing resolution to keep the government funded at current levels for another few days.
Like I told you this morning, this morning Mitch McConnell said he’s feeling more optimistic now than he even felt last night and that he and the Senate will be here until an agreement is passed, whenever that may be.
And of course, still in left field, we had Josh Hawley today calling for twelve hundred dollar stimulus on the Senate floor and also claiming that all these negotiations are beginning to reach the point of absurdity.
He implied that the top members of Congress are not being forthright with what they’re planning. He said it’s time for leadership to put on the table what they’ve got, it’s time for them to brief members on what they’ve got, so it sounds like this senator here, he feels like he’s just as in the dark and you and me are on what’s going on right now.