Negotiations have resumed on a COVID-19 stimulus deal but lawmakers still can’t agree on a price tag, reducing optimism that Congress can pass a bill before the end of the year.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Tuesday that Congress should agree to a “highly targeted” relief bill similar to the $500 billion legislation that was blocked in the Senate earlier this year.
“I don’t think the current situation demands a multi-trillion-dollar package,” McConnell told reporters. “So I think it should be highly targeted, very similar to what I put on the floor both in October and September.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has not budged from her position that the nation needs a large deal that includes a wide range of relief for state and local governments, businesses and individuals.
Asked about Republicans’ offer of a $500 billion bill last Friday, Pelosi said, “It doesn’t appeal to me at all, because they still have not agreed to crush the virus. So no, that isn’t anything that we should even be looking at.”
Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told reporters this morning that the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act that the House passed months ago should be the starting point in negotiations with the Senate. Democrats’ position seems to have hardened since before the election, when Pelosi was reportedly willing to accept a $2.2 trillion package in conversations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Schumer said Election Day has given Democrats a mandate to go big on a relief package and McConnell’s $500 billion offer is a “non-starter.”
“The biggest change since Election Day is that Donald Trump, who is not for helping us in COVID and who is against the HEROES Act, has lost,” Schumer said. “So yes, we think there has been a change. It should move things in our direction.”