WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – The Senate is due to vote this week on a “skinny” $ 500 billion economic recovery bill that doesn’t seem to include an additional round of $ 1,200 in direct payments to Americans.
Majority leader Mitch McConnell announced plans to vote Wednesday. He says the bill will include money for schools, extended unemployment benefits and additional funding for the Wage Protection Program
“No one thinks this $ 500 billion + offer will solve any problem forever,” McConnell said in a statement on Saturday. “That would provide huge amounts of extra help to workers and families right now, while Washington continues to argue about the rest.”
The “skinny” bill contrasts sharply with a much larger package that will include an additional $ 1,200 in direct payments pushed by President Donald Trump, and shows division not only between Democrats and Republicans – but also in the GOP leadership.
When the Senate votes on the measure this week, it will be largely symbolic. Democrats say they are not interested in a smaller hole to relieve viruses.
Last month, Democrats backed the GP’s aid bill, which did not include a new round of direct payments to Americans, and recent talks on a bigger deal between Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin and Parliament Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of California, have made little progress. .
Mnuchin told CNBC recently that the bill to alleviate the coronavirus, announced before the election, could be problematic, if not unlikely.
“At this point, it will be difficult to do something before the election and do it,” Mnuchin said.
Mnuchin said progress has been made on certain issues, but on other issues they “remain far apart”.
“Let’s not wait for the big bang where everything is perfect,” Mnuchin told CNBC. “I do not agree with the speaker’s approach that we should do everything or nothing. We continue to negotiate a comprehensive bill, but we want to invest in the economy now. “
According to the Washington Post, Pelosi and Mnuchin resumed talks on Saturday with a $ 1.8 trillion to $ 2.2 trillion deal. Trump said he would support even more and said during a NBC briefing on Thursday that Republicans “would agree with him.”
“They will leave,” he told moderator Savannah Guthrie. “I didn’t ask them because I can’t handle Nancy Pelosi.”
At the moment, GOP senators who are ready to “go” do not seem likely.
McConnell and his colleagues in the Senate have shown almost no interest in a bill larger than the approximately $ 500 billion proposal they will introduce. Many political insiders have speculated that Republican lawmakers are worried about cutting a big expense bill with the polarizing Pelosi just weeks before Senate control is handed over to voters.
Similarly, experts are wondering if Pelosi will make a deal with Republicans less than three weeks before a tough presidential election. While checks on incentives have been widely pushed by Democrats, they can also be seen as a victory for the president. When the first round of inspections was circulated, Trump’s signature was on each of the payments. If Trump manages to get a second round of relief as people head to the ballot box, it will certainly be something to brag about before the election.
“A fly on the wall or anywhere else that could land in the Oval Office tells me that the president only wants his name on a check to come out before election day and the market to rise,” Pelosi told colleagues in a letter. last week.
She defended her firm position, arguing that Democrats have more leverage than ever. But the risk of appearing empty-handed by next year seems very real.
Talks on the last potential round of COVID relief began in July, collapsed in August and resumed last month. Two weeks ago, we saw Trump make the talks collapse just to revive them over the weekend. They were then cratered again last weekend after Trump’s latest $ 1.8 trillion bid sparked heavy fire from both Democrats and Trump’s GOP allies.
Republicans are returning to offering smaller, targeted aid that would allow endangered party members to support aid again, even if it is not a starter with Democrats and opposes Trump.
“What I hear from Senator McConnell is to take a little piece again and be happy. “What I hear from the president is just the opposite,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. “Can the two sit down and agree?” Wouldn’t that be a breakthrough? ”
Some Democrats are convinced that Joe Biden is ready to take back the White House and are putting pressure on Pelosi to make a less ambitious deal that would help now, instead of letting the economy continue to struggle without help until next year. Pelosi’s response was to gather statements from a number of committee chairs criticizing the administration’s latest proposal.
“If Congress doesn’t act, the next president will inherit a real mess,” said Harvard economist Jason Furman, a former chief adviser to President Barack Obama. “If Mnuchin’s proposal can be passed on by the Senate – which is a huge ‘if’ – it would be much better than waiting to get even more in January.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.