House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, through an aide, gave Republicans 48 hours to pass a COVID-19 stimulus relief bill before the election. That deadline expires Tuesday, October 20.
Will Republicans meet it? Although Pelosi and Treasury Steven Mnuchin are continuing negotiations, it doesn’t look promising. That’s because Republicans and Democrats are currently on two entirely different tracks.
For her part, Pelosi is pushing the Democrats’ $2.2 trillion bill, which they already passed without Republican support. However, Republicans have balked at the high figure, and they couldn’t even coalesce around a smaller White House proposal of $1.8 trillion.
Instead, as Pelosi’s deadline looms, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is bringing forth two votes on stimulus relief – votes that are unlikely to get the extra Democratic votes needed to pass any of it.
Here’s what you need to know:
Pelosi’s Aide Made the Deadline Comments Over the Weekend
It was Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill who outlined a 48-hour deadline for Republicans, writing on Twitter over the weekend:
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 Hammill’s comments referred to before the election and she remains optimistic a plan can get done but it hinges “on the administration.” She said, “Are we going with it, or not? And what is the language? The 48 only relates to if we want to get it done before the election, which we do.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Hammill said the deadline expires at the end of the day Tuesday.
Is there progress? Hammill wrote on Monday:
The Speaker and Secretary Mnuchin spoke at 3:00 p.m. today for approximately 53 minutes. In this call, they continued to narrow their differences. The Speaker has tasked committee chairs to reconcile differences with their GOP counterparts on key areas. The Speaker continues to hope that, by the end of the day Tuesday, we will have clarity on whether we will be able to pass a bill before the election. The two principals will speak again tomorrow and staff work will continue around the clock.
McConnell Called Votes for Tuesday & Wednesday
Despite the deadline, McConnell is now calling for stimulus-related votes on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 20 and 21, but they’re not focused on a large overall stimulus bill.
First, the Senate will take up a bill to provide new funding for the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses struggling because of the pandemic. Senators will then vote on a $500 billion stimulus bill.
“Republicans do not agree that nothing is better than something for working families,” McConnell said in an October 13 statement. “The American people need Democrats to stop blocking bipartisan funding and let us replenish the PPP before more Americans lose their jobs needlessly.”