As negotiations for a second stimulus relief package have stalled for weeks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is now calling votes for Tuesday and Wednesday relating to a second stimulus bill.
However, both are very pared back versions of the amount that Democrats want to see, so it seems unlikely they will go through. In fact, the sides remain more than $1.5 trillion dollars apart. Thus, it seems likely that the McConnell actions are designed to highlight the differences to voters as election day looms and to put pressure on Democrats to act, especially on the piece Republicans are splitting out, the Paycheck Protection Program or PPP.
Meanwhile, Pelosi, speaking through an aide, gave the White House 48 hours to agree to the Democrats much larger proposal, which clocks in at $2.2 trillion.
The Democratic amount is a concession from the initial $3 trillion that Pelosi and the Democrats wanted. However, it’s a lot higher than Republicans are comfortable with; they already tried and failed to pass a narrow “skinny bill” but Pelosi dubbed it the “emaciated bill” and said it didn’t go far enough to help the American people. She also shot down a Republican proposal for $1.8 trillion, which was a concession from the lower amount Republicans wanted before. McConnell also said that Republicans in the Senate would not support the $1.8 trillion, however. Thus, both sides have conceded something but neither thinks it goes far enough. Republicans are concerned about spending and the deficit, and Democrats say they want to give the American people the relief they need and are focused on other measures like COVID-19 testing strategies.
A second round of direct payments to Americans is one thing caught up in all of this.
Here’s what you need to know:
Republicans Will Vote This Week on Pared Back Versions of Stimulus Relief
Republicans are going to go ahead with two votes this week that both represent pared back versions of what’s on the table, but they’re not going to be able to get them through without some Democratic support and that hasn’t been forthcoming in the past.
According to CNN, McConnell has called votes for Tuesday and Wednesday (October 20 and 21).
First, the Republicans want a “stand-alone Paycheck Protection Program bill” to help shore up small businesses decimated by the pandemic. Secondly, they are going to vote on a $500 billion stimulus bill.
In comments, McConnell tried to emphasize the need to get something through even if it’s not everything on the table. President Donald Trump previously called for a similar approach; he wanted Congress to pass stimulus checks on their own. But that hasn’t happened either. “Republicans do not agree that nothing is better than something for working families,” McConnell said in a statement, referring to PPP. “The American people need Democrats to stop blocking bipartisan funding and let us replenish the PPP before more Americans lose their jobs needlessly.”
Pelosi Gave the White House 48 Hours to Act
Rather than agree to any of the Republican plans on the table for this week, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff Drew Hamill put forth a 48-hour deadline for the White House to come around to the Democrats’ plans for stimulus relief. This is what he wrote on Twitter:
The Speaker and Secretary Mnuchin spoke at 7:40 p.m. by phone tonight for just over an hour. While there was some encouraging news on testing, there remains work to do to ensure there is a comprehensive testing plan that includes contact tracing and additional measures to address the virus’ disproportionate impact on communities of color. There remains an array of additional differences as we go provision by provision that must be addressed in a comprehensive manner in the next 48 hours. Decisions must be made by the White House in order to demonstrate that the Administration is serious about reaching a bipartisan agreement that provides for Americans with the greatest needs during the pandemic
Pelosi then told ABC on October 18 that Hamill’s comments referred to before the election and she remains optimistic a plan can get done but it hinges “on the administration.”