Congressional leaders hardened their battle lines on additional fiscal stimulus on Tuesday, with House Speaker
“We want to agree where bipartisan agreement is possible -- get more help out the door and then keep arguing over the rest later,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday. The so-called skinny bill focuses on restoring supplemental jobless benefits and extending small-business help, areas where McConnell said “bipartisanship should be especially possible.”
Pelosi said in an interview with Bloomberg Television that McConnell’s proposal “isn’t even an attempt to do the right thing.” She said “we have tens of millions of people who are unemployed in this country,” and that requires sufficient stimulus.
Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader
The pared-back bill, released Tuesday afternoon, provides a $300-per-week unemployment benefit enhancement, $105 billion for schools, a $10 billion grant to the U.S. Postal Service, $258 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, $47 billion for vaccines and testing needs, and liability protections for employers.
It doesn’t include another round of $1,200 checks to individuals -- something that President
The bill also included what Schumer on the Senate floor said Tuesday are “poison pills.” These include a tax break for paying for private school costs, liability protections for companies and funds for the coal industry. “If you wanted to draft a bill that was destined to fail, this is it,” the Democratic Senate leader said.
While Democrats have criticized the smaller package as as insufficient, McConnell said that Democrats had adopted a piecemeal approach of their own in recent weeks -- when the House voted on funding specifically for the Postal Service. “The American people don’t need us to keep arguing over what might be perfect. They need us to actually make a law.”
“The stumbling block is aid to state and local governments,” White House Chief of Staff
The Trump administration has characterized the assistance as a reward for poorly run, mainly Democratic states. Pelosi in Tuesday’s interview that the GOP has “excuses,” not real reasons for opposing the effort. She suggested that restrictions could be placed to meet any objections.
McConnell tried and failed for weeks to get most of the Senate’s 53 Republicans on board with the broader $1 trillion plan in the face of opposition from deficit hawks concerned about adding to this year’s $3.3 trillion budget deficit. He’s previously said that as many 20 Senate Republicans were against any additional spending.
The trimmed-back effort has wider support. Senator
The White House and congressional Democrats have been more than $1 trillion apart on the stimulus since negotiations broke off Aug. 7. Democrats lowered their demand from $3.4 trillion to $2.2 trillion but haven’t budged beyond that. Pelosi on Tuesday said the top-line level could be reduced through shifts in timing, while noting that she’s “certainly” not negotiating with Meadows at this point.
The looming election will create pressure points for Trump as well as for incumbents in the House and Senate. The White House is pushing for stimulus payments for individuals to go out before the Nov. 3 election.
Immediately before their August break, two Senate Republicans trailing their Democratic challengers in polls --
In the House, Democrats from swing districts are poised to increase pressure on Pelosi to get a deal. The moderate Blue Dog Coalition sent Pelosi a letter on Aug. 21 urging compromise, and vulnerable first-term Iowa Democrat
The monthly jobs report released Friday by the Labor Department, which showed the nation’s unemployment rate fell by almost 2 percentage points in August to 8.4%, also eased some pressure on Republicans to move closer to the Democrats’ plan.
Still, it didn’t fully erase concerns about the economy. Payrolls remain about 11.5 million below the pre-pandemic level, and the number of permanent job losers rose from last month by more than half a million to 3.41 million. A host of companies, from airlines to casinos to beverage businesses, have announced plans to cut workers who were initially furloughed.
Meantime, the two parties will this month have to negotiate a stopgap spending measure to prevent a government shutdown when the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30. Pelosi and Treasury Secretary
A key decision is the timetable for a temporary government spending resolution.
Mnuchin said Sunday his expectation is that a stopgap deal would run through the beginning of December, although specifics have not been ironed out.
“The most important thing is to make sure at the end of the month, we don’t shut down the government and we get something past the election,” Mnuchin said.
Some Democrats are pushing for a stopgap into early 2021, to avoid the possibility of having to negotiate with a lame-duck president if Trump loses. But the House speaker said Tuesday that she is “certain” of an agreement on stopgap spending bill this month.
(Updates with Cornyn confidence in Republican approval, in third paragraph after ‘States Aid’ subheadline.)
--With assistance from
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