These Are The Biggest Obstacles To A Stimulus Deal

Topline

After months of deadlock, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are still pushing for an agreement on the next multitrillion-dollar coronavirus aid bill—some progress has been made, but here’s what’s still standing in the way of the deal. 

Key Facts

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is the biggest obstacle to any agreement that Pelosi and Mnuchin reach becoming law—without the support of McConnell and at least some GOP Senators, no new relief proposal will make it to President Trump’s desk at all. 

While the price tag of the bill isn’t the only thing keeping Pelosi and Mnuchin apart (more important than the overall number is how the money in the bill is apportioned), it’s a huge sticking point for many Republicans who simply don’t want to spend more than $1 trillion (if that) on the next bill. 

Additional aid to state and local governments continues to be a major obstacle: Pelosi and top Democrats are pushing for more, while Trump has been a vocal critic of the provision, often describing it as a “bailout” for poorly managed Blue state governments.  

Republicans and the White House have pushed for liability protections to shield businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits by workers, but Democrats say these provisions (as written) put workers at risk and must be accompanied by stricter OSHA standards.

There’s also the question of timing: Pelosi said Wednesday that delays from Republican appropriators are slowing down the process in its final stages, but added that she’s hopeful those issues could be resolved quickly. 

Crucial Quote

“We obviously want to have a deal by November 3rd,” Pelosi said Wednesday in an interview on SiriusXM’s The Joe Madison Show. “That really is going to be up to whether the president can convince Mitch McConnell to do so.” She told MSNBC on Wednesday that “there will be” a deal one way or another, even if it doesn’t happen before Election Day. 

Key Background

A new report from Goldman Sachs Tuesday concluded that a comprehensive deal is not likely to be enacted before the election, given the huge differences that still remain between Pelosi and the White House. Reports this week that McConnell warned the White House against cementing a sweeping agreement with Democrats before November 3 (on the basis that it would jeopardize the Senate’s ongoing Supreme Court confirmation process) cast further doubt on the chances that Congress will pass another aid bill in the next 13 days. 

Further Reading

House Speaker Pelosi Says ‘There Will Be’ A Stimulus Bill, Either Before Or After The Election (Forbes)

More Stimulus Unlikely Before Election, Goldman Sachs Says (Forbes)

Democrats Vote Against GOP’s PPP Stimulus Bill As McConnell Tells White House Not To Make A Deal (Forbes)

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

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