When can Americans expect to see the next coronavirus relief bill, which is expected to include as much as $2 trillion in aid for the unemployed, state and local governments, small businesses and efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic? The main players in Washington sent mixed signals Friday, suggesting it could be weeks before any progress is made.
President Trump repeated his claim that he expected a “tremendous” coronavirus relief package to come “immediately after the election,” but the lawmakers who will make or break the deal appear to have different plans.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Friday that he expects to address another round of Covid-related spending “right at the beginning of the year,” and that the legislation would focus on aid to small businesses and hospitals facing a resurgence of the virus.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she was in more of a hurry, telling MSNBC that she wanted to have a bill passed before the presidential inauguration in January, adding that “we don’t want to have to wait that long, because people have needs.”
Is a deal even possible? A senior GOP aide told The Hill conditions on Capitol Hill could well improve after the election, with Republicans less worried about angering their supporters by making a deal with Pelosi that involves spending on Democratic priorities such as aid for state and local governments. At the same time, Democrats will lose their motivation to deny Trump a victory by passing a bill, making it easier for both sides to come to an agreement.
“The motivation level on both sides will depend on how the election comes out, but I think either way we’ll do something. The question is how much,” Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said.
But others have their doubts. A Democratic aide said that Republicans wouldn’t have much interest in making a deal if Democrats record big gains in the election. “I don’t think there is a package, period, if they lose,” the source told The Hill. Instead, the aide expected Republicans to return to the same stance they took with President Obama, refusing to pass a substantial relief package in the name of fiscal austerity.