by Dana George | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on Oct. 20, 2020
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The House and Trump administration move closer to a stimulus deal, but it's unclear whether the GOP-led Senate will cooperate.
On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi set a deadline for the ongoing stimulus negotiations. She said they need to be finalized by Tuesday, Oct. 20 if another stimulus relief bill is to pass before election day. If Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin can cobble an agreement together by the end of today, they'd have 13 days to gather bipartisan support and get the bill through both chambers of Congress before Nov. 3.
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Pelosi and Mnuchin narrowed their differences and made progress toward an agreement during a call yesterday, according to a representative from Pelosi's office. As the duo entered the final 24 hours of negotiations, Pelosi directed House of Representative committee chairs to try to resolve differences with their GOP counterparts.
In a note to House Democrats on Sunday, Pelosi wrote she is optimistic an agreement can be reached before the election. Further, she told colleagues that proposed legislation is being written as talks continue, "so that we are fully prepared to move forward once we reach agreement."
Pelosi was also open about lingering disputes, including tax credit expansion, childcare provisions, state and local government pandemic relief, and national COVID-19 testing strategy.
Pelosi and Mnuchin will continue negotiations today. If they can reach a consensus, it remains to be seen whether the GOP-led Senate will cooperate.
Factions of the GOP have argued for a "skinny" relief package and others have said there should be no more relief. The bill will need at least 13 Republican votes to pass the Senate, which could be a challenge after months of infighting.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement over the weekend saying, "If Speaker Pelosi ever lets the House reach a bipartisan agreement with the administration, the Senate would, of course consider it." McConnell has previously said he would not put a Democrat-White House stimulus package to the vote.
According to McConnell, Republicans plan to put two smaller pieces of stimulus legislation to the Senate this week. One is a limited package worth approximately $500 billion targeted at boosting unemployment, giving another round of Paycheck Protection Program loans and other measures.
To put that price tag in perspective, House Democrats recently passed a $2.2 trillion bill. They continue to push for a comprehensive package to help the American people and the economy. The White House has proposed a $1.8 trillion bill.
The CARES Act, passed by Congress in early spring, has largely lapsed. Federal expansion of unemployment benefits expired in July and most Americans have now used the first stimulus check they received. In the meantime, millions of unemployed Americans have watched their bank accounts shrink as they attempt to get by on standard benefits.
Low-income workers have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Eight million more Americans now live in poverty than before the pandemic. All this as COVID-19 cases surge and the country waits to learn if there will be another shutdown.
The next 24 hours will be crucial. If Pelosi and Mnuchin can come to an agreement, a stimulus package may still pass before the election.
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