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Election Results Usher In Uncertain Prospects for Pandemic Relief and Funding Omnibus

  • November 6, 2020

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Ballot counting in the presidential election continued for the fourth day this week as former Vice President Joe Biden made gains against President Trump in key battleground states. Control of the Senate balances on the results of undecided races in Alaska and North Carolina – and on both Senate seats in Georgia that will face run-off elections on Jan. 5.

  • The Real Estate Roundtable will hold a membership-only town hall discussion on Monday, Nov. 9 from 5-6pm EST to discuss the policy implications of the elections with Roundtable staff, elected leaders and special guests. 

  • Electoral uncertainty will influence Congress on its return to Washington next week for a “lame-duck session,” which will include consideration of a pandemic relief package and must-pass legislation to keep the government open past Dec. 11. (BGov, Nov. 6 and Roundtable Weekly, Oct. 30)

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) this morning called for Republicans to re-enter negotiations for COVID-19 relief as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday said Congress should pass a new economic-relief package this year. (Politico and Wall Street Journal, Nov. 6)

  • McConnell said, “We need another rescue package. Hopefully the partisan passions that prevented us from doing another rescue package will subside with the election. We need to do it, and I think we need to do it before the end of the year.”

  • Senate Whip John Thune (R-SD), who is number 2 in the chamber’s leadership, said on Oct. 25 that if Democrats prevail in the presidential election, a smaller stimulus bill could be pursued in the lame-duck session, followed by another package in the new year. (BGov, Oct 27)

  • A major impediment in the negotiations over pandemic aid is cost, as the Trump administration has offered a ceiling of $1.8 trillion, House Democrats passed a $2.2 trillion bill, and Senate Republicans favored a $500 billion measure. (Wall Street Journal, Oct.9 / AP, Oct. 1 / USA Today, Oct 21)

  • The tension surrounding the presidential election results adds to the uncertainty about whether President Trump will negotiate and seek to influence a Senate GOP bill addressing COVID-19 relief during the lame-duck session.

  • White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow today said the administration remains open to negotiations.  “Sen. McConnell and for that matter President Trump, and [Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin] and I and the others ... we would like to negotiate a package. It would still be a targeted package to specific areas. We’re not interested in two or three trillion dollars,” Kudlow said. (CQ, Nov. 6)

Lawmakers during the lame-duck may choose to merge some COVID-19 aid measures into a sweeping multi-trillion-dollar omnibus bill to avoid a partial government shutdown on Dec. 11, when funding is set to expire.  Additionally, many temporary financial safety net programs are set to expire on Dec. 31. (Marketwatch, Oct. 21 and RollCall , Oct. 28)

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