A Bill on the Hill?

The American public could get some clarity in the next 24 hours about whether they’ll see another large stimulus package ahead of the election. Absent a deal between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the administration in the next day or so, Congress could leave town for the election without providing additional relief for millions of Americans.

Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have characterized recent conversations as productive and fruitful. But critical differences remain, the time for consideration in the Senate is short and Senate Republicans could still ultimately scuttle any agreement. 

Pelosi has indicated negotiators need to finalize a topline budgetary number for the package by today, and Senate and House appropriation staff have begun to draft certain spending portions of the deal. But lacking consensus around a topline budget figure, not much progress has been made. Publicly, the president says he wants a big deal – as much as the $2.2 trillion Pelosi is seeking and perhaps more – but Secretary Mnuchin’s actions behind closed doors beg to differ. And to this point in the proceedings, Pelosi has not appeared to be willing to take steps to narrow their differences, either.  

In the meantime, several Senate Republicans have publicly expressed concerns about another large budget-busting COVID bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will have the Senate vote on a smaller, targeted $500 billion package providing additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, liability protections and additional economic impact payments to some individuals. But Senate Democrats are expected to oppose the package because it includes liability protection and shortchanges many of their top priorities.

The last congressional action on this matter was in April. The next opportunity would be in December.