The number of coronavirus cases are quickly rising in several parts of the U.S. again. However, the lawmakers aren’t showing the same agility in the matter of the relief package. More lawmakers now believe there are less chances of any coronavirus stimulus package and checks in the lame-duck session as the focus will be on the approaching deadline to decide on government spending.
Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, says that he is “discouraged” now because there “doesn't seem to be any interest on the Democratic side” so far, as per CNN. Cornyn said that he had been “encouraged” after the president-elect told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer that he wants the package soon, but now there is no interest from the Democrats.
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Talking about the cost of the package, Cornyn said that along with what the “topline” is, the “content” in the package is also important, “so that is why it is hard to say what the appropriate topline number is.”
Cornyn, however, admitted that people need support from Congress because many people are still “hurting” and there are a lot of “questions about logistics of the vaccine.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, also voiced similar concerns. Leahy said people are “suffering” because of the pandemic and “we're not doing a damn thing to help them.”
What’s blocking stimulus talks?
One major reason for no stimulus package so far is the differences over the cost of the package. Democrats are demanding a package of over $2 trillion. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, is firm on a targeted relief package costing about $500 billion.
Earlier this week, Biden spoke in favor of the HEROES Act, saying that approving it is the right thing to do. The House Democrats approved the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act in May, but the updated version of the bill costs $2.2 trillion.
McConnell, on Tuesday, dismissed the possibility of the HEROES Act by calling it “unserious." He pointed out that some Democrats don’t favor it as well. For a stimulus deal, it is important that Democrats soften their stance. This is because McConnell is expected to play a lead role in the stimulus negotiations now.
“I think right now the Democrats would have to come a long ways back to reality to us to get a bill," Sen. Dick Shelby, a Republican from Alabama, said.
Also, for the deal, it is important that lawmakers come back to the negotiating table. On Tuesday, Pelosi and Schumer even sent a letter to McConnell asking him to resume negotiations “this week" on the stimulus package “for the sake of the country…”
There are, however, reports that staff-level talks are ongoing, and there may be an agreement by the end of the week.
"Our staffs are engaged," Shelby said. "We are making progress. We got a few bumps. You can imagine what they are."