Stimulus Isn’t Dead Yet: Pelosi And Mnuchin Are Talking Again, McConnell Unveils Another Skinny Bill, And Moderates Are Pushing A New $900 Billion Plan
With a December 11 government shutdown deadline rapidly approaching and a renewed surge of coronavirus cases threatening an already perilous economic recovery, discussions about the next round of federal aid legislation resumed in Washington on Tuesday, but it’s too early to tell whether Congress will be able to come to any agreement on a new rescue bill.
On Tuesday morning, a bipartisan group of lawmakers unveiled a $908 billion framework for the next bill, thought only slightly more than a third of that money would be newly appropriated (the rest would come from unused CARES Act and Federal Reserve funds) and the lawmakers acknowledged that they had not received assurances that the White House or leaders from either party would be prepared to support the proposal.
On Tuesday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled another pared-down relief package of his own, according to Politico’s Jake Sherman—it would extend some CARES Act programs for a limited time and re-up the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, among other provisions, including one that would revive the 100% tax deduction for business meals as President Trump wants.
President-elect Joe Biden also weighed in on Tuesday, suggesting that while he approves of immediate relief legislation in the lame duck, he believes that more aid will be needed after he takes office in January.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who represented the White House in negotiations earlier this summer, spoke by phone Tuesday for the first time since October.
After their conversation, Pelosi (who has most recently pushed for a comprehensive bill worth around $2.2 trillion) said in a statement that more stimulus legislation is “long overdue and must be passed in this lame duck session.”
During a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Tuesday morning, Mnuchin cited positive economic data as evidence that a smaller stimulus bill would be more appropriate and noted that McConnell, President Trump, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows also support more targeted legislation, CNBC reported.
McConnell rejected the $908 billion bipartisan plan during a press briefing on Tuesday, telling reporters that “we just don’t have time to waste time” given that there are only a few weeks left until lawmakers leave town for the holidays. McConnell also reiterated his call for a targeted relief bill during the lame duck. The Senate Majority Leader has twice attempted to pass a narrow aid bill worth about $500 billion in the Senate, but both attempts failed because of objections from Democrats who believed the legislation was insufficient to address the country’s needs during the pandemic.
Four years. That’s how long it could take to recover the 22 million jobs that have been lost in the United States since the pandemic began, according to Moody’s Analytics.
What To Watch For
Even as they continue to struggle to reach a consensus on the next stimulus bill, lawmakers must also come to terms with one another on the federal budget before a December 11 shutdown deadline. Appropriators have reached a topline agreement on overall funding levels for the 12 bills in the spending package, though discussions over the details are ongoing. It’s possible that additional coronavirus relief provisions will be bundled with the spending bill, but only if lawmakers can agree in time.
Powell And Mnuchin Differ On Economic Outlook Amid Rare Public Disagreement Over Fed Emergency Lending Programs (Forbes)
New $908 Billion Bipartisan Stimulus Proposal Released Today—Here’s What’s In It (Forbes)
Biden: Stimulus Bill Passed During Lame Duck Session Is ‘At Best Just A Start’ (Forbes)
Congress Faces Tight Deadlines On Government Shutdown, Border Wall Funding, Stimulus, Trump Judges Before Year’s End (Forbes)