As legislators race to pass another coronavirus stimulus package before Election Day, President Donald Trump is playing both sides, according to one senator.
The White House has been sending mixed signals on stimulus over the past several weeks. Trump previously announced that he was halting all negotiations until after the November 3 election, allowing lawmakers to focus on the Supreme Court nomination. He then backtracked, calling for “standalone bills” tailored toward direct stimulus checks and airline assistance instead. Now, Trump is urging for a multi-trillion dollar package even larger than House Democrats’ $2.2 trillion proposal, according to WTMJ4 Milwaukee.
Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut told Yahoo Finance on October 22 that the president is shifting his stance on “an hourly basis.”
“Who cares about politics? My constituents in Connecticut can’t pay their rent. You should see the lines that exist right now at food banks in my state — and people are literally starving. Businesses who are facing the winter months are looking at a mass extinction event,” Murphy said, the outlet reported.
“The problem here has been that the president’s position changes on an hourly basis,” he continued.
Stimulus talks have reached another stalemate as negotiators continue to debate on the overall price tag for the next relief bill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been discussing a package in the range of $1.8 trillion to $2.2 trillion, including extended unemployment benefits and another round of stimulus checks, The Washington Post reported.
Murphy discredited Republicans’ claims that Pelosi is holding up stimulus talks for political reasons, according to Yahoo Finance. Both sides of the aisle have casted blame on each other for playing politics with negotiations.
Here’s what you need to know:
Murphy Says There Is No Reason Legislation Can’t Be Passed After Election Day
The Senator told Yahoo Finance that there is “no reason” negotiations can’t continue after the November election.
Murphy expressed concern that Republican lawmakers may not be “motivated to support a bill during a lame-duck session,” the outlet reported.
“My worry is that there will be a bunch of Republicans — who having voted for massive amounts of deficit financing, both for tax cuts and for coronavirus relief — will all of a sudden become deficit Hawks the minute the election is over, in the case Joe Biden wins,” Murphy said to Yahoo Finance.
Negotiators Are Close to Putting ‘Pen to Paper’
The Speaker & Secretary Mnuchin spoke today at 2:30 pm for 48 minutes. Today's conversation brings us closer to being able to put pen to paper to write legislation. With the exchange of legislative language, we are better prepared to reach compromise on several priorities. (1/3)
— Drew Hammill (@Drew_Hammill) October 21, 2020
Pelosi and Mnuchin are still working to reach an agreement on a broad-based package before November 3.
The House speaker spoke to reporters on Thursday, October 22, to provide an update on stimulus talks. Although Pelosi cited progress, she warned that passing the bill into law could take some time.
“If we can resolve some of these things in the next few days, it’ll take a while to write the bill,” Pelosi said during her news conference.
She indicated that “we’re just about there” on testing, tracing and healthcare provisions and coming to terms on another round of direct stimulus checks. State and local aid, liability protections for businesses and the election provisions remain unanswered, though, she continued.
Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill wrote on Twitter that lawmakers are close to putting “pen to paper.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Said He Is Willing to Bring a Bill to the Floor if Deal Is Reached
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he would be willing to vote on the Senate floor should an agreement be reached between the White House and the House of Representatives, according to WSAZ.
The Senate majority leader told the station on October 21 that he is ready for “a deal sometime soon.”
“People are frustrated, I’m frustrated with this. We’ve been talking to the Democrats since July. They keep insisting on doing things that are totally unrelated to the problem,” he shared with WSAZ. “For example, the Heroes Bill in the House that my political opponent (Amy McGrath) supports included health care for illegal immigrants, tax cuts for rich people in California and New York, and oh by the way, more money for Puerto Rico than for Kentucky.”
“That was not the kind of bill that I thought was appropriate,” he added.
However, The New York Times reported that McConnell told Republican Senators on Tuesday, October 20, that he advised the White House to avoid reaching a deal until after the November election. He cautioned against passing legislation that “most in the party cannot accept,” the newspaper added.