With two weeks to go until the election negotiations to reach a deal on stimulus for the struggling US economy continue but hope for action is limited.
A battle of wills is taking place in Washington as Democrats and Republicans try to bring home a final win on their terms before the election. With Trump’s poll numbers sliding and Democratic voters already voting in record numbers House Speaker Nancy Pelosi feels that she has Trump against the ropes
according to reporting in the Washington Postsaying that House Democrats have “maximum leverage” now. However, whatever comes out of on-going negotiations between her and Mnuchin will have to get through the Republican held Senate.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called on the Trump administration to reconcile remaining disputes on coronavirus stimulus legislation within 48 hours as lawmakers attempt to pass a bill before the 2020 election.
close dialogStream live CNBC TV from around the world.
Pelosi set the 48-hour deadline on negotiations after speaking with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday night for more than an hour. They agreed to speak again on Monday.
In an interview on ABC News on Sunday, Pelosi said the deadline has to do with lawmakers’ ability to get a deal done before the Nov. 3 election, which is just over two weeks away. The speaker said she’s optimistic about negotiations but that the outcome ultimately depends on the White House.
By Susan Del Percio, Republican strategist and senior advisor to the Lincoln Project
Looks like Sen. Mitch McConnell got it wrong — again. And this time it could cost him the Senate majority. Republicans initially thought that a fast appointment of a conservative justice would help them in battleground states. After all, nothing rallies the conservative base like a Supreme Court appointment. However, given the likelihood of confirmation, the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings to confirm Amy Coney Barrett turned out to be fairly uneventful and relatively drama-free. Most importantly for Democrats, they have not taken America’s focus off the coronavirus. Republicans initially thought that a fast appointment of a conservative justice would help them in battleground states. The reality on the ground is that the virus has not gone away, and there are spikes across the Midwest and elsewhere. Suddenly, McConnell is interested in passing some kind of Covid-19 relief package again. That the majority leader would realize the political importance of this pivot isn’t surprising. That the members of his own party aren’t pushing harder for it is. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who recently tested positive for Covid-19, said he would wear “a moon suit” to the Senate so he could vote to confirm Barrett as a Supreme Court justice. It was a “joke” devoid of both humor and empathy. Currently, Wisconsin is experiencing a spike in coronavirus cases, ranking fourth in the nation for new Covid-19 cases. According to seven-day averages from the Covid Tracking Project, hospitalizations and deaths have rapidly risen since September. To date, close to 170,000 people in Johnson’s home state have tested positive; over 1,500 have died. Johnson is not facing re-election this November, which may be why he appears to be turning a blind eye toward the crisis unfolding under his nose.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday told reporters that "He is willing to go higher than my members are," referring to the $1.8 billion package that the White House has presented to Ms. Pelosi. Instead Mr. McConnell intends to put to a vote in the Senate a much smaller package to keep the Paycheck Protection Program going. He said of his more targeted bill, “My members think half a trillion dollars, highly targeted, is the best way to go."
Mr. McConnell's package would be less than a quarter of what House Democrats passed along party lines at the beginning of the month. Ms. Pelosi has shown little interest in passing piecemeal packages, as it would appear like a win for the Republicans preferring a much larger comprehensive aid bill. In addition, Trump’s erratic messaging on what type of package should be passed has bolstered her position.
Over a week ago Trump cancelled all negotiations over stimulus to have Republican Senators focus on the nomination of his Supreme Court pick Judge Amy Barrett only to do a complete U-turn after receiving criticism from members of his party. Now Trump has stated and tweeted that he wants to “Go big” and that he would like to see an even bigger deal than the $2.2 trillion that Democrats passed in the House at the beginning of the month. Some progress is being made between the White House and Ms. Pelosi with Mnuchin announcing on CNBC that one of the sticking points funding for testing had been “overblown.”
Although he and his advisors publicly say that they can get Republicans to fall in line with him in private Republican lawmakers have dashed those hopes. To add to Trump’s problems he is down in the polls due to his handling of the coronavirus. The economic woes that everyday citizens are experiencing only furthers disappointment in how his administration has approached the pandemic weakening the political pressure he can bring to bear on his party.
A country in need
The US economy needs a shot of stimulus as the recovery from the initial blow to it putters out. The Department of Labor announced that new jobless claims up 53,000 from the week prior on Thursday, now at a total of 898,000. Economists at the IMF this week called for the passing of the $2.2 trillion package saying it could boost the economy by 2% points. If all sides can come together and pass a deal it would take about two weeks for the IRS to start sending out checks.