Legislative Update: The Latest Buzz on Stimulus Relief

Max Shenker

November 16, 2020 – Congress is currently in a lame-duck session until the new Congress begins on January 3, 2021. Funding for the government expires on December 11, creating a deadline for legislation by that time.

In an article on November 12, Politico reported:

“Prospects for a new stimulus bill this year just about hit rock bottom on Thursday. Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer said they have no plans to budge from their position of demanding a $2 trillion coronavirus relief measure, and no less. Barely an hour later, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected their approach in remarks to a pair of reporters.”

This view is consistent among reports covering the state of negotiations:

Bloomberg, Nov. 12: “’The level at which the economy is improving further underscores that we need to do something at about the amount that we put on the floor in September and October,’ McConnell told reporters. Democratic leaders ‘still are looking at something dramatically larger. That’s not a place I think we’re willing to go,’ he said. His office declined to comment about the White House role in the talks. Schumer said Thursday that the $2.4 trillion House-passed bill must be the starting point to any new stimulus talks, reinforcing the stalemate with the Senate.”

Politico, Nov. 12: “We asked PELOSI this morning if she had the same position on Covid relief that she had before the election — her disagreements with the administration sunk a deal: “We’re in the same place — even more so with the pandemic. Look at these numbers. Look at these predictions from the scientific community.” IN OTHER WORDS, she and the Dem leadership don’t appear to have any interest in changing their negotiating stance.”

Axios, Nov. 13: “Biden spoke to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday about the need to pass a stimulus bill during the lame-duck session of Congress. But the reality is that the Republican Senate and the Democratic House remain very far apart on priorities.”

Wall Street Journal, Nov. 13: “Top Republicans and Democrats remained at odds about the price tag of a new agreement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), who is taking over from the Trump administration to represent Republicans in the discussions, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) have no current plans to talk. President-elect Joe Biden has said he would like to see a deal as soon as possible, while President Trump hasn’t weighed in.…Rep. Gerry Connolly (D., Va.) said he put the chances of passing a coronavirus relief package in the lame-duck session at ‘low to slim’ given the time constraints and the diminishing incentives for Mr. Trump.”

Washington Post, Nov. 14: “On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the rampaging virus represented ‘an emergency of the highest magnitude.’ But she and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have held no talks on a new rescue package.”

However, on Nov. 14, President Trump tweeted: “Congress must now do a Covid Relief Bill. Needs Democrats support. Make it big and focused. Get it done!”

In remarks on Nov. 16, President-elect Biden advocated for passing the HEROES Act, the bill passed by Congressional Democrats and rejected by Republican Senators, now during the lame-duck. Reporters pointed out that this stance backs Speaker Pelosi’s position rather than backing a compromise.

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