Stimulus Deal Soap Opera Likely To Drag On Past Today’s Deadline As Pelosi, Trump And McConnell Send Mixed Signals


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday maintained that she is “optimistic” that she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin can come to an agreement on the next round of federal coronavirus aid in the coming days, adding that the 48-hour deadline she set over the weekend was intended to make sure each party had its “terms on the table” in time to draft a comprehensive bill that could be passed before Election Day. 

Key Facts

In a Tuesday afternoon interview with Bloomberg TV, Pelosi specifically cited major concessions from the White House on Democratic language for Covid-19 testing and tracing after initially criticizing the Trump Administration for “unacceptable changes” to what Democrats had proposed. 

She said the two sides remain significantly apart on two major issues: liability protections for businesses (a top Republican priority) and more federal aid to state and local governments (a top Democratic priority). 

There are other areas of disagreement remaining, including over changes to certain tax credits for low-income families, the 2020 census and election funding, though the Speaker signaled she might be willing to concede to the White House on that issue. 

Asked about the likely possibility that Senate Republicans may reject any agreement she makes with the White House (despite assurances from President Trump to the contrary), Pelosi said she’s received “mixed messages,” but didn’t elaborate on what those messages were. 

Pelosi clarified that the 48-hour deadline she gave the White House over the weekend was not a hard deadline for the parties to reach a comprehensive deal, but rather a deadline for each party to have its terms laid out on the table “to be able to go on to the next step” of legislative language drafting.

What To Watch For

The Speaker is scheduled to confer with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin again by phone on Tuesday afternoon. Pelosi said Tuesday that in order to pass the new bill before Election Day—and in order to have relief money in Americans’ hands before the rent is due on November 1—the final bill needs to be drafted by the end of this week. 

Crucial Quote

“I’m not optimistic about us doing anything.” That’s what Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told reporters on Tuesday afternoon, Politico reported. After instructing her committee chairs to work with their Republican counterparts to hash out their disagreements on Monday, Pelosi Tuesday described delays from the appropriators as a “bump in the road” and said that she was still hopeful they would be ready by Tuesday evening. 

Big Number

72%. That’s the portion of likely American voters—including more than half of Republicans surveyed—who said they support the passage of a new multitrillion-dollar federal stimulus bill that would include “government support for citizens” and additional aid for state and local governments, according to a new poll conducted by the New York Times and Siena College.

Key Background

Pelosi has continued working with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is representing the White House in discussions, in search of a deal even though it’s unclear whether Senate Republicans will support any agreement the Democrats and White House reach. Senate Republicans have for months resisted a package as expensive as what Pelosi and Mnuchin are discussing (somewhere between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion). Without at least some Republican senators supporting it, the new bill can’t make it to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law. McConnell said over the weekend that the Senate will “consider” any deal Pelosi makes with the White House, but Senate Republicans are still planning two votes this week on their own relief proposals—one stand-alone bill to authorize the use of $135 billion in leftover Paycheck Protection Program funds, and a $500 billion narrow relief bill. Neither is expected to draw enough Democratic support to pass. 


After being asked about the $2.2 trillion relief proposal Pelosi has offered the White House on behalf of Democrats (the White House countered with a $1.8 trillion bill), President Trump told Fox & Friends on Tuesday morning that he “would rather go bigger than her number.”  After abruptly calling off stimulus talks two weeks ago, and then restarting them, Trump has repeatedly said he supports a plan even bigger than the one Pelosi has proposed, and has also maintained that Senate Republicans will vote for a more expensive package, too. Senate Republicans, for their part, have so far shown no inclination to embrace such a deal. 

Further Reading

Stimulus Cliffhanger Drags On—With Staff Working ‘Around The Clock’—As Pelosi And Mnuchin Struggle To Cut A Deal (Forbes)

Pelosi Doubles Down On 48-Hour Stimulus Deadline (Forbes)

Stimulus Would Be ‘Almost Impossible’ To Execute Before Election, Even If Bipartisan Deal Is Reached, Kudlow Says (Forbes)

McConnell Won’t Support $1.8 Trillion White House Stimulus Bill—Even If Pelosi And Trump Make A Deal (Forbes)

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