Stimulus Negotiations Resume, But Is There Any Hope For A Deal?

( Maybe there is hope for a coronavirus stimulus deal to be reached before Election Day.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have had discussions several times recently. They spoke Monday night and are planning to meet on Tuesday.

While the sides remained far apart in negotiations from the last time they met, they are both equally as motivated to try to get a deal done before the election. President Donald Trump is motivated by adding another legislative victory to his ledger. Pelosi is facing pressure from other Democrats in the House who are facing re-election and want to be able to tout this as a victory for them.

The House is also working on a contingency plan in case negotiations with Republicans falls apart again. On Monday, Pelosi unveiled a $2.2 trillion relief plan that includes many of the same items from the original Heroes Act, which totaled $3.4 trillion. Democrats pared the price tag down by limiting the timeframe for many of the programs involved.

It’s unlikely that the revised Democrat package would be acceptable by Republicans, who have been pushing for a package much closer to $1 trillion. Senate Republicans tried to pass a smaller $500 billion plan earlier this month, but Democrats were able to block that initiative, saying it didn’t address enough concerns.

The new $2.2 trillion plan from Democrats would include more funds for the Paycheck Protection Program, aid to the U.S. Postal Service, coronavirus testing and contact tracing funding of $75 billion, a restoration of the $600 federal boost to unemployment benefits, and a second round of $1,200 direct payments to millions of Americans.

The plan also calls for $436 billion in aid to tribal, local and state governments, given out over one year. That’s much less than the original $1 trillion Democrats had called for.

In a statement about the bill, Pelosi said:

“This $2.2 trillion Heroes Act provides the absolutely needed resources to protect lives, livelihoods and the life of our democracy over the coming months. It includes new funding needed to avert catastrophe for schools, small businesses, performance spaces, airline workers and others.”

The Heroes Act is indeed a fallback option for Pelosi and Democrats, though. It’s meant to serve as a talking point for Democrats for the presidential election, as it’s clearly not going to be acceptable as is to Republicans.

If the House moves forward with formally introducing and voting on the Heroes Act, then it’ll be a sign that negotiations between Pelosi and Mnuchin have broken down again. If the two are able to reach a compromise, then it’s likely an entirely new deal that meets the terms of the compromise would be drawn up and presented in both Chambers of Congress.

Some within the Democratic Party are skeptical of the revised Heroes Act, hoping it’s not just a campaign tactic. As Minnesota Representative Dean Phillips, who was one of the people who drafted the bill for the Problem Solvers Caucus, said:

“If it’s a messaging exercise, it’s worthless.”