Stimulus package negotiations: Trump teases a restart after pulling the plug

October 7, 2020 John Mendoza No Comments


The clock is running for Congress to reach a deal before breaking for the election.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Tuesday morning, a series of tweets sent from President Donald Trump’s Twitter account on Tuesday afternoon halted stimulus negotiations in their tracks, at least until after the Nov. 3 elections. But by Tuesday evening, the president took a different tone, offering the olive branch of a standalone bill for a $1,200 stimulus check via Twitter while calling out top Democratic leaders he spurned earlier in the day.

The surprise twists in a long saga to secure more economic aid for the American people keep getting twistier. After tweeting out support behind a new stimulus bill with a second direct payment, funding for COVID-19 testing and enhanced jobless benefits on Saturday (“OUR GREAT USA WANTS & NEEDS STIMULUS. WORK TOGETHER AND GET IT DONE. Thank you!”), Trumps tone abruptly changed early Tuesday. 

“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business,” Trump said. The president, who is receiving treatment for COVID-19 usually administered to severely ill patients, returned to the White House Monday after three days of hospitalization with coronavirus symptoms that included drops in the president’s oxygen levels.

“He refuses to put money in workers’ pockets, unless his name is printed on the check,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday hours before the president’s sentiment about a standalone stimulus check bill.

“Today, once again, President Trump showed his true colors,” Pelosi said earlier Tuesday. “Putting himself first at the expense of the country, with the full complicity of the GOP Members of Congress … Clearly, the White House is in complete disarray.”

What does Trump’s tweets mean for the future the stimulus bill, and is there a way for negotiations to resume sooner? We’ll share what we know about the suddenly tenuous future of negotiations, and will update this story often as news develops.

Read more: The most important things to know about stimulus checks and every way your taxes affect stimulus checks.

Now playing:
Watch this:

Next stimulus checks: What to expect


Why did Trump stop the stimulus talks?

Earlier this week, Pelosi said negotiators would reach a deal on a comprehensive package “one way or another,” despite sticking points. But — for the moment at least — talks are on hold. Why?

With Election Day 28 days away, Trump instructed the Senate to turn its attention to the nomination of Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett, the president’s conservative pick. It’s been suggested Trump and fellow high-ranking Republicans who tested positive for COVID-19 acquired the coronavirus on Barrett’s nomination day, at events where mask wearing was not universal. 

The Senate, which paused in-person floor votes until Oct. 19 after three Republicans tested positive with COVID-19, is already moving forward on Barrett’s hearing in pro forma sessions, which can take place remotely. Prior to Trump’s tweets, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had said his chamber would reconvene to vote on a stimulus package if a deal was made.

Trump’s call to pause the talks still demonstrates his desire for more stimulus aid. “When, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business,” he tweeted.

However, his Tuesday night tweet suggests he may be willing to negotiate a way out, at least there the stimulus checks are concerned..

Is there any way the negotiations could restart before the elections?

As of now, it isn’t hopeful that talks would restart unless Trump gave Mnuchin the go-ahead to resume. The House of Representatives passed a new stimulus bill last week (more below), but until or unless the Senate picks it up, no law will move forward.

Even if the Republican-led Senate and Democratic-led House resumed discussions independently of Mnuchin — the administration’s representative in the talks — Trump could still veto any bill that emerged.

The results of the election could change the landscape of the conversation, and not just in terms of the presidential candidate.  

With 470 seats in the US Congress — 35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats — up for a vote on Nov. 3, any change in majority to the House or Senate also shifts the likelihood of certain laws being passed one way or another.

When could a new coronavirus relief bill pass if talks are suspended? 

We’ve suggested four possible dates, based on the new timeline. These are speculative only.

Possible timelines for when a stimulus bill could pass

House votes Senate votes President signs
Nov. 9 Nov. 10 Nov. 11
Nov. 16 Nov. 17 Nov. 18
Nov. 23 Nov. 24 Nov. 25
Jan. 26 Jan. 27 Jan. 28

Didn’t the House vote on a new stimulus bill? What’s going on?

On Oct. 1, the House of Representatives passed a revised Heroes Act that includes a second stimulus check and additional benefits such as enhanced unemployment benefits for tens of millions of Americans. The new House bill, endorsed primarily by Democrats, has little chance of advancing through the Republican-controlled Senate, though.

According to Pelosi, the vote on the revised Heroes bill was independent of ongoing negotiations with Mnuchin. If Pelosi and Mnuchin do agree on a new proposal, a new bill would need to be separately drafted and voted on in both the House and Senate before being signed into law. The total cost of the package and funding allocations like a child tax credit have remained chief sticking points.


Will America pass a new stimulus bill? Both sides agree more aid is necessary.

Angela Lang/CNET

Why did the House pass Heroes 2.0 if talks were ongoing?

The vote is thought to provide cover for House Democrats as they campaign without a new relief bill, much as the Senate did earlier in September for Republican members with its $650 billion skinny bill. Like the skinny Senate bill, this new House proposal has little chance of advancing in the other chamber.

What do Democrats and Republicans agree on?

Proposals from both sides include another stimulus payment of up to $1,200 for individuals who meet the requirements, among topics like aid for airlines, coronavirus testing and extending the Paycheck Protection Program for businesses.

With talks on hold, could the president take executive action?

After talks originally collapsed on Aug. 7, Trump signed an executive order and three memoranda the following day. It’s possible more executive actions could be forthcoming if this final attempt at negotiations fails before the election, though there’s been no development after Trump first suggested his administration might consider another executive action to bypass Congress. 

It’s unclear if Trump would pursue more unilateral action at this point.

Pelosi expressed doubt about Trump’s ability to use executive orders for additional relief funding.

“No. No. He can’t do this by executive order,” Pelosi said on MSNBC Oct. 5. “He can’t do the money without the Congress of the United States. The power of the purse begins in the House.”

Trump’s current COVID-19 relief executive actions address trying to slow evictions, extending unemployment benefits to a lesser degree and deferring payroll taxes until next year.


Democrats and Republicans have disagreed on how much relief aid should be included in the stimulus package. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

What about passing smaller, standalone bills?

If the two sides reach an agreement but the Senate rejects the new bill, some in Washington say the way to break the stalemate is to pass a series of narrower bills that target specific areas — such as the entertainment and airline industries. But that’s unlikely to happen before the election.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows revived the discussion on Oct. 5, according to Jeff Stein, The Washington Post’s White House economics reporter.

Senate Republicans made one attempt with its Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act, but that proposal failed in the Senate. The House also presented a piecemeal bill seeking to provide funding to the US Postal Service ahead of an election in which many Americans, wary of in-person voting during a deadly pandemic, will likely be voting by mail

So what happens now?

The situation is still in flux. For now, we wait to see if there are any developments. Anything could still happen. 

For more information, here’s how soon you might get your second stimulus check and what to know about the HEALS, CARES and Heroes stimulus bill proposals that could help inform a final package.

Source link