Speed Reads

coronavirus relief

Trump says he wants a 'bigger' COVID-19 stimulus bill than Pelosi, claims Senate GOP 'would go along'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday that if she and the White House can't agree on a COVID-19 stimulus package by Tuesday night, it will have to wait until after the election. Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been negotiating for months, and they are reportedly within striking distance of a deal worth between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion. "I am optimistic that we can reach agreement before the election," Pelosi wrote her caucus on Saturday, adding that Democrats are "fully prepared to move forward once we reach agreement."

President Trump said Sunday that Pelosi, who passed a $3.4 trillion stimulus bill in May and a $2.2 trillion bill this month, is being too frugal now. "I want to do it at a bigger number than she wants," he said on the tarmac in Carson City, Nevada. "That doesn't mean all the Republicans agree with me, but I think they will in the end. If she would go along, I think they would, too, on stimulus."

Senate Republicans have shown few signs they would go along with a bill in that price range. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is scheduling a second vote this week on a bill with about $500 billion in new funds, but last week he said Trump is "talking about a much larger amount than I can sell to my members."

McConnell expects Senate Democrats to block his smaller bill, The Associated Press reports, and "once the measure fails, he plans to turn the chamber's full attention to cementing a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court by confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett. It is likely to be the Senate's final act before Election Day." Recent polls show that a sizable majority of voters want the Senate to pass another round of stimulus before voting on Barrett's nomination.

McConnell said Saturday that "if Speaker Pelosi ever lets the House reach a bipartisan agreement with the administration, the Senate would of course consider it," but given opposition inside his own ranks, it isn't clear he would. Either way, "Congress is past the point at which it can deliver more coronavirus relief before the election," AP concludes, with the differences between Pelosi, Trump, and McConnell "proving insurmountable despite the glaring needs of the country."