WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – The Senate will vote this week on a “lean” $ 500 billion economic recovery bill that does not appear to include an additional round of $ 1,200 direct payments to Americans.
Majority leader Mitch McConnell announced plans for a vote on Wednesday. He says the bill will include money for schools, higher unemployment benefits and additional funding for the salary protection program
“Nobody thinks this more than $ 500 billion proposal would solve every problem forever,” McConnell said in a statement on Saturday. “It would provide huge amounts of additional help to workers and families right now, while Washington continues to argue over the rest.”
The “meager” bill stands in stark contrast to a much larger package that would include additional direct payments of $ 1,200 pushed by President Donald Trump and shows a split not just between Democrats and Republicans, but within the GOP leadership.
When the Senate votes on the measure this week, it will be largely symbolic. Democrats have said they are not interested in a lesser approach to reducing the virus.
Last month, Democrats obstructed a GOP-drafted aid bill that didn’t include another round of direct payment to Americans, and recent talks about a broader deal between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy. Pelosi, D-Calif., Haven’t made much progress.
Mnuchin last told CNBC that a coronavirus bill announced ahead of the election could be problematic if not unlikely.
“At this point, doing something before the election and executing it will be difficult,” Mnuchin said.
Mnuchin said that progress has been made on some issues, but on other issues “they continue to be very distant”.
“We don’t wait for the big bang where everything is perfect,” Mnuchin told CNBC. “I disagree with the speaker’s approach that we have to do all or nothing. We are continuing to negotiate a global bill, but now we want to invest money in the economy.”
According to the Washington Post, Pelosi and Mnuchin continued talks on Saturday over a $ 1.8 trillion to $ 2.2 trillion spending deal. Trump said he would support even more and during Thursday’s town hall with NBC he noted that Republicans “will agree”.
“They will go,” Savannah Guthrie told moderator. “I didn’t ask them to do it because I can’t get over Nancy Pelosi.”
Right now, GOP senators willing to “go” doesn’t seem likely.
McConnell and his colleagues in the Senate have expressed little or no interest in a bill larger than the proposed $ 500 billion that will be launched. Many insiders speculate that Republican lawmakers are worried about cutting a hefty spending bill with polarizing Pelosi just weeks before control of the Senate is put in the hands of voters.
Along the same lines, experts wonder if Pelosi would have struck a deal with the Republicans less than three weeks before a tight presidential election. While the stimulus controls have been largely pushed by the Democrats, they could also be seen as a victory for the president. When the first round of checks was distributed, Trump’s signature was on each of the payments. If Trump were able to get a second round of aid distributed as people head to the polls for early voting, that would certainly be something to brag about ahead of the election.
“A fly on the wall or anywhere else it might land in the Oval Office tells me the President just wants his name on a check to come out before Election Day and for the market to go up,” Pelosi said in a letter to her. colleagues last week.
He defended his uncompromising stance, arguing that Democrats have more power than ever. But the risk of going out empty-handed until next year appears very real.
Talks about the latest potential round of COVID relief began in July, failed in August, and resumed last month. Two weeks ago, we saw Trump fail the talks, only to revive them over the weekend. They then collapsed again last weekend after Trump’s latest $ 1.8 trillion proposal caught fire from both Democrats and Trump’s GOP allies.
Republicans have returned to offering smaller, more targeted aid that would allow members of the endangered party to go back to registering in favor of aid, even if it’s not a start with the Democrats and opposed by Trump.
“What I heard from Senator McConnell is once again to take a small piece and be satisfied. What I heard from the president is just the opposite, “said Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill.” Can the two of them sit down and agree? Wouldn’t that be a breakthrough? “
Some Democrats are convinced that Joe Biden is ready to reclaim the White House and have pressured Pelosi to strike a less ambitious deal that would provide aid now rather than letting the economy continue to struggle unaided until next year. Pelosi’s response was to collect statements from a number of committee chairs criticizing the administration’s latest offer.
“If Congress doesn’t act, the next president will inherit a real mess,” said Harvard economist Jason Furman, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama. “If Mnuchin’s offer could be approved by the Senate – which is a huge ‘if’ – it would be much better than waiting for even more in January.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.