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Stimulus check 2: Can it still happen before Election Day?

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, in March 2014.
(Image credit: Christopher Halloran/Shutterstock)

After weeks of back-and-forth efforts to reach a consensus on a stimulus package ahead of Election Day, lawmakers and administration officials have thrown in the towel, essentially guaranteeing that Americans won't see stimulus check 2 until mid-November at the earliest. 

In a letter sent Tuesday to House Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) ended all hope for a deal before Nov. 3 and blamed the White House for failing "miserably," NBC News reports. She did indicate that work on stimulus relief would continue but offered no specific timeline. 

"From 'hoax' to hundreds of thousands dead, the White House has failed miserably — not by accident, but by decision," she wrote. "Now we know why they resisted science at the expense of lives, livelihoods and the life of our democracy. Again, it was a decision to do so."

President Trump also tapped out — while blaming the Democrats — but said that he expects an agreement soon. 

"After the election, we'll get the best stimulus package you've ever seen," he said.

Pelosi had previously set a deadline for the two sides to put together a proposal that could pass before Election Day. That deadline passed, but talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continued into this week as Pelosi expressed hope for a deal. 

The Trump administration had mostly agreed to the size of the Democrats' $2.2 trillion revised HEROES Act, though there was still conflict over specific provisions, such as the amount of  aid to state and local governments and whether the bill should include liability protections for businesses against coronavirus-related lawsuits.  

The Senate's role

Of course, while House Democrats and the White House have come closer together, Senate Republicans have made little effort on a second stimulus package up to this point — and relief can't move forward without their buy-in.  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has been focused on confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, a process that was finalized earlier this week. He did bring a second largely symbolic $500 billion "skinny" bill to the floor, which the Democrats blocked from advancing. 

As two Washington Post Opinion columnists argued, McConnell may have dragged his feet in order to keep his options open depending on which party wins the White House or the  Senate next week. This approach may further hamstring the efforts to move legislation forward and give people a chance of seeing additional relief.