Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, White House, House Democrats and a stimulus package.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.Ky.) revealed that he has warned the White House not to strike an agreement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before the Nov. 3 election.
At a closed door Senate GOP lunch, McConnell told his colleagues that “Pelosi is not negotiating in good faith with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and that any deal they reach could disrupt the Senate’s plans to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court next week”.
Republicans have voiced concerns that a stimulus deal could splinter the party and exacerbate divisions at a time when they are trying to rally behind the Supreme Court nominee. The comments were confirmed by three people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss them.
McConnell’s intervention came as Pelosi and Mnuchin continued negotiating over the roughly $2 trillion economic relief package. Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said the “conversation provided more clarity and common ground as they move closer to an agreement.” But no deal can become law without McConnell’s blessing, and his direct warning to the White House imperils the chances of any bill becoming law in the next two weeks.
McConnell told reporters that if a deal were reached and passed by the House with President Trump’s support, he would put it on the Senate floor “at some point” but he did not commit to doing so before the election.
The deal being discussed would provide another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, more unemployment benefits, aid for small businesses, money for coronavirus testing, and support for airlines and hospitals, among other things.
Republicans could lose control of the Senate based on the outcome of November’s election, and the senators have made clear to the White House that voting on a huge stimulus deal could mean the end of their majority if it scares away fiscally conservative voters. Mnuchin and Pelosi have continued dancing around a deal for weeks, however, particularly amid signs that the economic recovery is weakening markedly.
Trump has downplayed or dismissed conservative opposition to spending trillions more on a stimulus, saying he wants to spend even more money than Pelosi’s $2.2 trillion proposal. Many Republicans had already balked at spending more than $1 trillion on this round of relief. Asked about McConnell’s reluctance to the stimulus, Trump said on Tuesday morning: “He’ll be onboard if something comes. … Not every Republican agrees with me, but they will.”
Pelosi and Mnuchin continued their negotiations, talking for 45 minutes Tuesday afternoon as they discussed sticking points including liability protections for businesses and state and local aid. Pelosi had said that if they are going to vote on a deal by the end of next week, they need to agree on specific language by the end of this week.
McConnell declined to tell reporters whether he’d spoken with Trump about the issue or whether Republicans would support what Trump wanted.
Senate Republicans oppose a massive new spending bill and McConnell is not eager to hold a vote that would divide his conference just before the election, when most Senate Republicans want attention focused on the Barrett nomination.
The scrambling comes during numerous concerns about the economy. The unemployment rate remains high, the travel industry remains in rough shape, and there are growing concerns about problems in the commercial real estate sector. Many restaurants are still struggling, and some continue to go out of business seven months after the pandemic floored the American economy.