Roundtable Weekly
Pandemic Relief Deal at Impasse as Election Nears
October 24, 2020


Policymakers signaled this week that pandemic relief negotiations remain at an impasse over federal aid to state and local governments and liability protection for employers – adding uncertainty to prospects for a deal before the election and diminishing chances for a legislative package before Nov. 3. 

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) yesterday said, “If we can resolve some of these things in the next few days, it will take a while to write the bill. We wouldn’t take less of a bill to get it sooner.” (CQ, Oct. 23)

  • President Trump today said Pelosi is delaying progress on a deal until after the election. “She wants to bail out poorly run Democrat states and that’s a problem … we don’t want to reward areas of our country who have not done a good job,” Trump said at the White House. (BGov, Oct. 23)

  • Treasury Secretary Mnuchin added today, “We’ve offered compromises. The speaker, on a number of issues, is still dug in. If she wants to compromise, there will be a deal.”

  • Pelosi said this morning on MSNBC that President Trump needs to convince reluctant Senate Republicans to support a possible deal with the White House. “The fact is that the president has been back and forth. But he has to talk to the Senate Republicans.” (Washington Post, Oct. 23)

  • The stalemate reflects a lack of legislative agreement in Congress on the cost of a COVID-19 stimulus package.” (CQ and BGov, Oct.23)

  • Senate Democrats this week voted 51-44 against a “skinny” relief bill of $500 million proposed by GOP lawmakers to fund the Paycheck Protection Program and additional unemployment relief.  That measures stands in contrast to a $2.2 trillion pandemic stimulus bill passed by the House of Representatives on Oct. 1 that is a scaled-down version of the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act passed by the House in May.  (Roundtable Weekly, Oct. 16)

  • Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) said yesterday he has doubts a stimulus package could be agreed to soon. “I think it’s about two minutes to midnight, and we’re not going to pass anything until we see the particulars. There could always be a miracle, but there’s not many around here.”

  • It is possible that some COVID-19 aid measures could be added to must-pass legislation after the election during the “lame-duck” congressional session, when lawmakers will face a Dec. 11 government funding deadline or risk a shutdown. (Washington Post, Oct. 23)

Action on a comprehensive pandemic relief package may wait until early January after the elections – even though many temporary financial safety net programs are set to expire Dec. 31. (Marketwatch, Oct 21)

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