Stimulus Deal Is Progressing, But McConnell Seems To Oppose It

( While much of the focus of stimulus negotiations has been given to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could play the biggest role in the future of the economic relief bill.

In a private lunch on Tuesday, sources say McConnell indicated that he believed a stimulus deal was unlikely to be voted on in the Senate before Election Day. He even said he has warned the Trump administration against supporting a proposal that would force Republicans to make a decision before November 3.

McConnell said he believes doing so would put Senate Republicans in a precarious position. They could either decide to not take up the bill before the election, or take a chance and hold a vote that might not ultimately pass. Either scenario could prove damaging to Republican Senators up for re-election.

Pelosi and Mnuchin have been working hard at hammering out a last-minute deal this week. The two said they made progress on Tuesday and planned to speak again Wednesday, even though Pelosi’s self-imposed Tuesday deadline has already passed.

In order for any deal to be passed into law, though, it would have to get support from at least 60 Senators. And that is where the real doubt comes into play. McConnell has repeatedly said he doesn’t believe there’s enough support among Republicans in his chamber for another economic stimulus bill that is more than $1 trillion, let alone approaching the $2 trillion that seems to be what is being negotiated.

Instead, Republican Senators have been pushing smaller deals around $500 billion. Those deals aren’t supported by Democrats in the House, though.

In all likelihood, even if Mnuchin and Pelosi were to come to an agreement in the next few days, the Senate probably wouldn’t hold a vote on the bill until after the election. This could cause even more controversy, as McConnell would have the choice to hold a vote in a lame duck session of the Senate, or wait until the new session takes court in January — when the Democrats could gain the majority.

As recently as Tuesday, McConnell publicly said that if Mnuchin and Pelosi do come to an agreement — and if it’s a bill that’s supported by President Donald Trump — then he would “put it on the floor of the Senate and let the Senate consider it.”

The big variable is whether Senate Republicans who are up for re-election would decide that voting in favor of a large stimulus package would boost their chances at the polls.

For her part, Pelosi said she’s optimistic a deal will get done between her and Mnuchin. Writing to her colleagues in the House about her meeting with Mnuchin on Tuesday, she said:

“Our conversation provided more clarity and common ground as we move closer to an agreement. Today’s deadline enabled us to see that decisions could be reached and language could be exchanged, demonstrating that both sides are serious about finding a compromise.”