House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke for about an hour Monday as they scrabble to reach agreement on a COVID-19 stimulus package before Pelosi’s Tuesday night deadline. They reported some progress. “We have finally in the last 24 hours … come to a place where they are willing to address the crisis,” Pelosi said on MSNBC Monday night. She laid out the sticking points with the White House in a private call with House Democrats on Monday.
“I want this as soon as possible because I don’t want to carry over the droppings of this grotesque elephant into the next presidency,” Pelosi said on the call, Politico reports. “We’ve got to get something big and we’ve got it done soon and we’ve got to get it done right.” The financial markets seem skeptical. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 411 points, or 1.5 percent, on Monday as hopes faded for a deal.
President Trump also says he wants a big deal, but if Pelosi and Mnuchin manage to negotiate one, he will have to lean on Senate Republicans for them to even take it seriously. “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said only the Senate would ‘consider’ any such agreement, with no promise of a floor vote or whether it would have his support,” Politico reports. A significant number of Senate Republicans are balking at the price tag, between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion, and “if all Senate Democrats supported the legislation, it would still need more than a dozen Republicans to clear the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a filibuster.”
Republicans’ “natural instinct, depending on how big it is, and what’s in it, is probably going to be to be against it,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said Monday. “I think we’re going to have a hard time finding 13 votes for anything.” Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said the package “would divide Republicans if it’s anything like the kind of contours we hear about.”
“Given the number of Republican senators in tough re-election races, it’s conceivable that some of them would support a massive spending deal,” Politico notes, but Senate Republicans would clearly prefer that negotiations fail. “You’ll lose a lot of Republicans on whatever that is,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.). But “If they bring it up for a vote, I’m guessing there will be enough to get it across the finish line.”
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