With the Senate now back in session after the election, hopes of stimulus talks restarting have reignited as well. As per a report from The Washington Post, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to play a crucial role now in the negotiations for the coronavirus stimulus package and checks.
The negotiations prior to the election were mainly between the Democrats and White House. McConnell wasn’t actively involved in the negotiations. Post-election, however, McConnell could play a bigger role in the stimulus negotiations, while the Trump administration may be on the sidelines.
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Last week, McConnell cleared that the stimulus talks are a priority for him. “This [virus] is not going to go away until we kill it. So that's job one," he said.
Further, the Post says that President-elect Joe Biden could also take part in the stimulus negotiations.
Speaking to ABC News, Democratic Sen. Christopher Coons of Delaware, said that Biden “is going to be able to pull together leaders in Congress to deliver the relief that we need and deserve, and one way that President Trump can show some graciousness in the next 73 days during the transition is to publicly support a significant pandemic relief bill.”
Biden’s transition team is also said to be in talks with Congressional Democrats to set priorities in the lame-duck session.
Differences still need to be resolved
Though the lawmakers want to come up with a stimulus package this year itself, there are still several differences that they need to resolve. Democrats have been asking for a stimulus package of over $2 trillion, while Senate Republicans are in favor of a targeted relief package.
The Trump administration did raise its counter-offer to about $1.8 trillion. However, with the Trump administration expected to stay on the sidelines, the stimulus talks could start from point zero now.
Last week, McConnell talked about the latest jobs report, which claimed that the economy added 638,000 jobs last month. This seems to suggest that he could still be favoring slimmer relief packages.
“I do think we need another one, but I think it reinforces the argument that I've been making for the last few months that something smaller ... is more appropriate,” McConnell said at a press conference.
Pelosi, however, already rejected the idea of a smaller stimulus package. “That isn't anything that we should even be looking at," she said in a press conference last week.
In September, McConnell introduced two targeted relief bills in the Senate for vote, but Senate Democrats blocked both of the bills. These bills included $300 in federal unemployment benefits, aid for small businesses, funding for healthcare and schools.
The bills didn’t include stimulus checks, nor funding for states and local governments. McConnell, however, hinted last week that he is open to include funding for states in the stimulus package.