Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has reportedly shut down all hope of passing a COVID-19 stimulus bill in the next two weeks.
Discussions on the next relief bill have gone on for months with no actual results since the last package — and the boosted unemployment insurance that came with it — expired after July. But despite Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) continuing discussions Tuesday, people familiar with the discussions say McConnell has called the whole thing off, The New York Times reports.
Mnuchin and Pelosi have been in talks for weeks, with Pelosi setting Tuesday as a deadline for both sides getting their "terms on the table." Yet negotiations didn't end and Democrats are still trying to get at least $2 trillion in funding from the White House; Mnuchin offered up a $1.8 trillion package on Monday. McConnell meanwhile said Tuesday "if a presidentially supported bill clears the House at some point we'll bring it to the floor." But behind closed doors in a lunch with Senate Republicans, McConnell reportedly said he told the White House not to accept anything until after the election. He wants to ensure that Republicans up for re-election can avoid the "difficult choice of defying the president" by voting against the bill or "alienating their fiscally conservative base" by approving it, the Times reports.