House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appear to inch closer to putting “pen to paper” on a large COVID-19 stimulus package, while Senate leaders are discouraging the White House from making any deal ahead of the Nov. 3 election. In fact, in a private Senate Republican luncheon this week Leader McConnell told his caucus that he had told the White House not to make any deal with Speaker Pelosi.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told GOP colleagues this week that a stimulus deal in the $2 trillion range that Pelosi and Mnuchin are negotiating could splinter GOP ranks and disrupt the Senate’s plans to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Monday, October 26, 2020. Senate Republican staff have said on background that “…we are sick of Mnuchin, he gives and gives to Pelosi and doesn’t get anything in return from her.”
McConnell has not been part of the Pelosi-Mnuchin talks and told reporters this week that if a deal emerges that passes the House, he would put it on the Senate floor “at some point,” but perhaps not before the election.
McConnell’s aversion to a big relief package is in conflict with President Trump, who has at various times said he wants lawmakers to “go big” on a COVID-19 bill. Earlier in the week, Trump said McConnell would “be onboard if something comes.”
“Not every Republican agrees with me, but they will,” Trump said.
Last night, Trump attempted to shift blame for the lack of a large bill to Democrats, tweeting, “Just don’t see any way Nancy Pelosi and Cryin’ Chuck Schumer will be willing to do what is right for our great American workers, or our wonderful USA itself, on Stimulus. Their primary focus is BAILING OUT poorly run (and high crime) Democrat cities and states.”
Funding for state and local governments is one of the differences Pelosi and Mnuchin are trying to iron out this week. Democrats also want language in the bill providing a national strategic testing and contact tracing plan.
Pelosi has voiced optimism about her talks with Mnuchin this week, which continues today, but acknowledged that passage of a bill might have to wait until after Nov. 3.
“We obviously want to have a deal by November 3rd,” Pelosi said on Sirius XM radio last night. “That really is going to be up to whether the president can convince Mitch McConnell to do so. I think Mitch McConnell might not mind doing it after the election.”
As of Thursday, October 22, 2020, there will not be a COVID-19 relief package that passes both sides of Capitol Hill and be signed by the President in the next 13 days.