Two days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) announced a pared-down, $2.2 trillion revision of their HEROES Act stimulus bill, Democrats are holding out for a positive response from the White House with the hope of pushing a deal through soon and making stimulus check 2 a reality.
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin earlier this week agreed to return to the table to negotiate a second relief package, nearly two months after talks stalled Both have expressed optimism about moving forward. They were meeting behind closed doors Wednesday (Sept. 30) at the Capitol, according to latest reports.
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The Washington Post reports that even White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is hopeful about the possibility of a deal. Politico said Meadows went to meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) as Mnuchin met with Pelosi.
Pelosi is hoping for a viable Republican counter-offer, which is expected to be close to $1.5 trillion — the amount the Trump administration has pushed for weeks. Meanwhile, House GOP leaders have already rejected the Democrats’ proposal and on Tuesday sent out a memo to lawmakers in an attempt to torpedo the new bill.
Even if a bipartisan agreement can’t be reached, Democrats reportedly plan to push ahead with their proposal and will likely hold a vote in the coming days, perhaps as early as Wednesday evening.
Centrist lawmakers have been putting pressure on Pelosi to move something forward as Election Day nears in hopes of showing constituents that an attempt was made to provide additional relief.
“Passing a bipartisan COVID-19 relief package should be our number one priority in the coming days,” House lawmakers wrote in a letter to Democratic leadership.
What about the Senate?
But even a joint House-White House bill could die in the Senate. Politico reports that McConnell has shown little motivation to work on stimulus relief before Nov. 3. The Senate is instead focused on pushing through a Supreme Court nomination in just a few weeks.
Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-South Dakota) told Politico he didn't think the Pelosi-Mnuchin talks could produce anything that budget-conscious Republican senators would vote for.
“As the price goes up, the Republican vote total goes down,” Thune said. “Could you pass it? Maybe. But you’re going to pass it with 47 Democrats and 13 Republicans. And depending on what that [spending] number is, I don’t know where the 13 Republicans would come from.”
What’s in the new stimulus package?
The House Democrats’ latest proposal (read the text here) would cost significantly less than the original $3.4 trillion HEROES Act passed in May, but it does include some of the benefits Americans might be hoping for.
For example, the bill would bring back the $600-per-week federal unemployment-benefits supplement and would provide another round of $1,200 direct payments to eligible individuals and families.
There are still funds to aid state and local governments, although half of what the first version of the HEROES Act wanted, and support for COVID-19 testing and tracing.
The bill also includes some provisions that both Republicans and the White House have pushed for, including financial assistance for airlines and an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program.