House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that there has been progress between Democrats and the Trump administration on a second stimulus package — but it could be “a while” until a bill is written and passed.
“I think we’re just about there,” Pelosi said about the healthcare, testing and tracing aspects in the bill, according to Forbes. On another round of stimulus checks, Pelosi said, “we’ve come, I think, to terms.”
Democrats haven’t reached an agreement with the White House on state and local funds, election and census provisions and business liability protections, the publication reported.
Republicans, Democrats and the White House have struggled to agree on a follow-up relief package to the CARES Act that went into law in March and provided most Americans with $1,200 stimulus check payments during the coronavirus pandemic, along with an additional $600 weekly unemployment benefits.
Pelosi didn’t commit to passing legislation before Election Day, but said “it is in range.”
“It’s only about time,” Pelosi told reporters, according to The Hill. “I think it is in range for us to pass it before the election. But it’s not up to me to decide what the Senate does.”
The news comes after Pelosi chief of staff Drew Hammill wrote on Wednesday that Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were “closer to being able to put pen to paper to write legislation.”
But even if Pelosi and the White House can agree to a deal, there are looming signs of difficulty in the Senate, which has a 53-member Republican majority.
Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, told the White House not to strike a deal on a second plan because it could “interfere with the Senate’s plans to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court next week,” The Washington Post reported.
Senate Republicans indicated it would be difficult to drum up support to pass legislation before Election Day, as it would require 60 votes to pass the Senate. That means that, even if all Democrats in the Senate voted in favor, just over a dozen of Republicans would need to as well.
”It would be hard,” said Senate Majority Whip John Thune, a Republican, according to Newsweek. “To try to convince Republicans over here to be for it, when their natural instinct — depending on how big it is and what’s in it — is probably going to be to be against it, I think we’re going to have a hard time finding 13 votes for anything.”
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has also said there is a gulf between what the White House and Senate want to see in a deal.
“The Senate Republicans have been very vocal in terms of their lack of support of a number that is even close to what the president has already supported in the $1.8 trillion range,” Meadows said, Newsweek reported.
Trump has blamed the Democrats, including Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, for the lack of a second coronavirus relief plan.
“Just don’t see any way Nancy Pelosi and Cryin’ Chuck Schumer will be willing to do what is right for our great American workers, or our wonderful USA itself, on Stimulus,” the president wrote on Twitter Wednesday. “Their primary focus is BAILING OUT poorly run (and high crime) Democrat cities and states.”
House Democrats passed another coronavirus relief bill earlier this month but had no chance of advancing it through the Republican-controlled Senate. The $2.2 trillion package, an updated version of the Heroes Act, would have provided another round of stimulus checks, funding for state and local governments, and weekly $600 additional unemployment benefits.
This week, the Senate GOP tried to advance a plan that would’ve given “roughly $500 billion” in aid, including money for schools and health care, unemployment benefits, and funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, according to Roll Call. Senate Democrats blocked the bill, saying it didn’t do enough to combat economic hardship in the pandemic, according to CNBC.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida told CNBC on Thursday that he would support a more expensive stimulus package.
“No one is going to get everything they want here, and from my perspective, that means the bill on this is probably going to be higher than I want it to be and I’m very uncomfortable with that,” Rubio said, according to the publication.
“I think the price of not doing something is even higher,” he continued, CNBC reported. “So as long as it’s limited in some way, as long as it’s not crazy, yes I’m willing to be flexible about it because I think it’s that important.”