- The prospect of a new stimulus bill is still languishing in Congress, as leaders from both parties remain at an impasse over what should be in a new coronavirus relief package.
- However, a key Trump administration official — Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin — gave some promising comments to House leaders Tuesday, noting that a bipartisan agreement on a bill is still possible.
- Nevertheless, there’s still a lot of work to do to make a new stimulus bill happen.
For weeks now, Congress has let the prospect of a new stimulus bill — including the possibility of funding for a new wave of coronavirus-related stimulus payments for most Americans — languish in the upper chamber. Senators recessed for a month without taking action on a piece of companion stimulus legislation after the House of Representatives sent over its version, and leaders of both parties have basically snipped at each other over the last few weeks about why an impasse has remained the status quo.
Meanwhile, the broad strokes of why a new stimulus bill is necessary in the first place haven’t changed. The coronavirus pandemic is still rampaging across the US, casting a dire shadow over the US economy. Tens of millions of Americans remain newly unemployed. And both parties could get an easy win out of being seen as working to pass a comprehensive relief bill, with benefits that enjoy bipartisan support — like the new round of stimulus checks that most Americans say they desperately need right now. So, what’s the holdup? What happens next?
A key Trump administration official, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, offered his take this week during a House subcommittee hearing, with his comments possibly offering a bit of optimism about where things stand along these lines.
“We will continue to work with the Senate and House on a bipartisan basis for a phase four relief package,” Mnuchin said Tuesday, during a hearing of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, adding his hope that an agreement would include funding for priorities like schools, vaccines, and child care. “I believe a bipartisan agreement still should be reached.”
Following a plea from House Majority Whip and South Carolina Democrat Jim Clyburn that Mnuchin “return to the negotiating table, prepared to find common cause” with Democrats on a stimulus bill, Mnuchin confirmed that he’s “prepared to sit down with (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) at any time to negotiate,” and that “the President and I do support additional fiscal response and we’ve been working hard to try to get a negotiated agreement on a bipartisan basis.”
For now, though, both sides still have a ways to go before they’re close enough to reach a compromise. Per CNN, for example, Pelosi told reporters after speaking with Mnuchin Tuesday afternoon that she’s concerned about what she heard from the Treasury secretary, who she said wanted to “do a little now and a little later” when it comes to stimulus. The posture from Democrats is that Congress should “go big” now.
Similarly, during a call between Pelosi and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in recent days, she offered to cut the price tag on a new stimulus bill from $2.4 trillion to $2.2 trillion but said that’s as low as Democrats want to go. Republicans, however, want $1 trillion to be the high limit.