Will a stimulus deal get done?
Here’s what you need to know.
There appears to be renewed optimism of a potential stimulus deal between White House negotiators and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi (D-CA) said the White House had 48 hours to finalize a stimulus deal, a deadline which has since passed. However, with the election less than two weeks away, it’s also possible that any stimulus package dies in the halls of Congress. Now, the next stimulus is not only about stimulus checks and unemployment benefits. There are underlying influences of the election, Supreme Court confirmations and political jockeying. Here are 3 ways that there won’t be a stimulus deal now:
1. Mitch McConnell encourages the White House to end negotiations
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has encouraged White House negotiators, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, to end negotiations with Pelosi. Why? McConnell, according to The Washington Post, says Pelosi is not negotiating in good faith. McConnell also said that Democrats want to thwart the Senate confirmation process for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Finally, McConnell may believe that a $2 trillion stimulus deal could hurt Republicans, especially among conservative Republicans who want to curtail federal spending, in the November election.
2. McConnell could delay bringing a stimulus vote to the Senate floor
While Pelosi, the leading Democrat in the House, negotiated on behalf of her party, Republicans did not pursue the same strategy for stimulus talks. The White House has been negotiating directly with Pelosi, when otherwise McConnell or another senior Republican member of Congress would represent Republican interests. Throughout stimulus talks, McConnell has pushed for a smaller stimulus package. This includes the original $1 trillion Heals Act as well as a $500 billion stimulus package. McConnell doesn’t appear to support a $2 trillion stimulus deal. While McConnell said he would bring a stimulus deal between Pelosi and the White House to the Senate floor “at some point,” it’s unclear whether that would be before or after the election on November 3. As Senate Majority Leader, McConnell has discretion which votes he brings to the Senate floor. Despite a potential stimulus deal between the White House and Pelosi, McConnell could delay any stimulus vote until after the election.
3. Pelosi could “kill” a stimulus deal
McConnell is not the only Washington player who could “kill” a stimulus deal. Pelosi could end the stimulus talks before a stimulus package becomes law. How? Pelosi could wait until after the election to determine if Democrats win the presidency and control the Senate. Pelosi knows that Democrats will retain control of the House. If Democrats win the Senate and the White House, Pelosi would prefer to wait until after the election for a stimulus deal. Why? If Democrats control the White House and both houses of Congress, a potential stimulus package would look much different than a draft plan looks today. With Democrats in control, Democrats could set the economic agenda and would prefer a larger stimulus bill. Therefore, under this hypothetical scenario, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) would prefer to wait until January or February 2021 in the next congressional term to reshape a stimulus package.