Pelosi Might Be Backpedaling, But I’m Not
This is my stimulus update for Wednesday, October 21.
No deal was struck yesterday between Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The pair spoke for 45 minutes and it seems they’ve moved on from COVID-19 tracing, testing language and now they’re back to arguing over liability protection, which Democrats do not want in any new bill, and they are also arguing once again over state and local aid, these are the two poison pills perceived by the respective parties.
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Nevertheless, Pelosi’s spokesperson said that Pelosi and Mnuchin continue to find common ground as they move toward an agreement and that committee chairs will work to resolve differences about funding levels and as well as specific language and that Pelosi and Mnuchin will continue their discussions this afternoon when Mnuchin gets back from the Middle East.
Mark Meadows, who used to be in these stimulus talks along with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, but doesn’t appear to be directly involved right now, Meadows was on CNBC yesterday afternoon and said that “good progress” has been made but the negotiations are still “several hundred billion” dollars apart and are especially divided over the long-standing issue of how much money to allocate to state and local government funding. Meadows said that Trump doesn’t really care about the dollar amount, the top-line, he just wants a deal, Trump himself was on Fox and Friends yesterday and reiterated his claim that he wants an even bigger stimulus than Democrats and not every Republican agrees with him but they’ll come along and that Mitch McConnell will be on board if a deal is struck
So let’s talk about the Senate and Mitch McConnell, who’s just, you know he’s just being Mitch. Yesterday he called for a standalone PPP legislation, as we all knew it would this legislation failed to get the 60 votes for cloture, it failed 57 votes to 40, promising though is 5 Democrats joined in and voted for this bill, so you know, there’s some, there’s a glimmer of bipartisan light in the Senate it seems.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, obviously a Democrat, said that this move by McConnell is simply a “show vote on coronavirus relief.” Today McConnell will engage in a similar maneuver for a new skinny bill, half-a-trillion dollars, that has an unemployment extension, a little bit of school funding, a little bit of healthcare funding, and a little bit of assistance for small businesses, it’s ninety percent the same as the previous Republican skinny bill, this thing is going to fail in the Senate today as well, so I’m not going to waste breath on this.
Now, what’s more concerning is that yesterday Mitch McConnell said that even if Pelosi and Mnuchin do reach a deal, the Senate should wait to vote on it until after the election. He made these comments in a closed-door lunch with Republican colleagues.
He suggested that Nancy Pelosi is not negotiating in good faith with Secretary Mnuchin and that any deal they reach could disrupt the confirmation votes for Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Now, this late in the game, with Pelosi’s 48-hour deadline that she kind of backpeddled on, I’ll talk about that in a second, but realistically the election is a mere fourteen days away from yesterday when McConnell made these comments, so it’s not like this is a huge heartbreak statement from McConnell, but it continues to reveal just an extremely lackadaisical attitude toward stimulus out of the G.O.P. Senate. McConnell did say that if a deal passes the House and has Trump’s support that he would put it on the Senate floor “at some point,” without specifying exactly when.
Pelosi was on Bloomberg TV yesterday denying that she is stringing Republicans along here for her own devices, she said she wouldn’t even be talking to Mnuchin if she didn’t believe that they could get something done.
And she also kind of backpeddled on her 48-hour deadline, when asked about it she said, you know, “It isn’t that this day was a day we would have a deal. It is a day we would have our terms on the table to be able to go to the next step. We could still continue the negotiation. It might not be finished by Election Day.” And now she’s saying that if we want a bill before the Election, it needs to be written by the end of the week and move through Congress next week.
So let’s timeline this out, let’s say, best case scenario, Mnuchin and Pelosi reach a deal tomorrow or Friday, staff works through the weekend putting the finishing touches on the final language, and the bill is released to the public on Monday morning.
Remember, the House of Representatives has a 72 hour rule, meaning that a bill cannot be voted on unless it’s been released for at least 72 hours beforehand, so that would make the earliest a House vote could happen under this best case scenario I’ve just described sometime next Wednesday, October 28, which is only six days before the election, and this doesn’t even get into the Senate, a Senate whose Majority Leader is saying he doesn’t want a vote on this before the election, so this sucks, but that is where we are at right now as of October 21.