Roundtable Weekly
Pandemic Relief Package Compromise Uncertain as Senate Republicans Oppose Cost of Democrats’ Plan; Trump Willing to Press for Deal if Agreement Reached
October 17, 2020

Capitol Building in Washington, DC side view

President Trump will urge Senate Republicans to approve a pandemic relief deal if an agreement can be reached soon with Democrats, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. That message was relayed by Mnunchin to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) this week during stimulus negotiations as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) repeated Republican opposition to the latest proposals. (The Hill, Oct. 15 and BGov, Oct. 16)

  • Last month, Senate Republicans attempted to advance a “skinny” COVID-19 aid bill for approximately $500 billion that was blocked by Democrats. (Axios, Sept. 10)

  • The House of Representatives subsequently passed a $2.2 trillion relief bill that was a scaled-down version of their $3.4 trillion HEROES Act passed in May. (NBC News , Oct. 1)

  • Recent discussions between Pelosi and Mnuchin have circled around a possible deal that would cost between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion.

Senate GOP Opposition

  • Senate Majority Leader McConnell, above, commented on whether a compromise within that range is possible, stating, “I don’t think so … That’s where the administration’s willing to go. My members think what we laid out, a half a trillion dollars, highly targeted, is the best way to go.” (@ericawarner, Oct. 15 and photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

  • McConnell issued a statement this week, pledging to offer another bill in the $500 billion range. “When the full Senate returns on October 19th, our first order of business will be voting again on targeted relief,” McConnell said.

  • McConnell also commented this week, “You’re correct we’re in discussions with the secretary of the Treasury and the speaker about a higher amount. That’s not what I'm going to put on the floor.” (@ericawarner, Oct. 15)

  • Pelosi has met primarily with Mnuchin during recent weeks to negotiate cost and policy differences affecting a possible COVID-19 package.  Today marks the one-year anniversary since Pelosi and Trump have spoken to one another. (The Hill, Oct. 16)

  • Pelosi said in a letter to Democratic colleagues on Thursday night that although agreement with the White House had been reached for a national virus testing and tracing plan, key policy priorities remain unresolved, including aid for state and local governments and liability protections for businesses. (Washington Post, Oct. 15)

  • Even if a framework for a comprehensive agreement is reached among policymakers, developing and passing language for a multi-trillion dollar bill less than three weeks before a presidential election is highly uncertain.

Pelosi also suggested on Oct. 7 that if a deal cannot be reached soon, virus relief funding could be addressed during a post-election, lame-duck session of Congress.  She noted that pandemic relief could be added to a must-pass spending bill needed to keep the government open after Dec. 11, when current funding is scheduled to expire. (BGov, Oct. 7 and Roundtable Weekly, Oct. 2)

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