The negotiators have not managed to break a deadlock to pass a bipartisan stimulus package before election day, and the likelihood that they will succeed in such a feat during the upcoming lame session of Congress seems bleak.
The stalemate persists, even though the nation’s gross domestic product rose significantly again in the third quarter. The economy remains below pre-coronavirus levels and is not expected to come out of recession in the foreseeable future.
The Democrats say that there are still more than half a dozen unresolved issues for a further relief bill. Broadly speaking, these are the same disagreements that kept Speaker of Parliament Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnukhin from reaching agreement for several months, including unemployment insurance, state and local aid, and a coronavirus testing and tracing program.
On Thursday, there were increasing signs that the negotiations were stalling – barely moving forward, but little or no progress toward the finish line. Pelosi poured cold water on the idea that the Democrats could now accept an aid package smaller than their $2.2 trillion demand and then provide more aid if – and when – Joe Biden takes office in January.
“We are not talking about size. We’re talking about quality,” the California Democrat told reporters. “And we’re not going to pass a small bill that will be blamed for imposing money on the richest people in America while questioning the integrity of unemployment insurance.
Translation: If Mnukhin doesn’t move up from his $1.9 trillion offer and the two can’t work out their differences, the Democrats will likely hold out until the New Year, especially if Biden wins the election.
Pelosi said she prefers to pass a new discharge bill by the end of the year for two reasons, regardless of who wins the election – and she is “very confident” that it will be Biden.
“The American people need help. They need real help,” she said, “Second, we have a lot of work to do in a Joe Biden administration…. We want to have a clean slate by January.”
She added, “Why should we talk to them if we don’t want a bill?
In a letter to Mnukhin on Thursday, the Speaker of the House of Representatives outlined seven specific political hurdles that remain and said the administration still needs to give feedback on them. These unresolved issues include virus testing and tracing, state and local aid, reopening of schools, childcare, tax credits for labor income and children, unemployment insurance and labor protection agency, and liability protection.
Mnukhin and the White House were not too happy with the allegations. The mild-mannered Treasury Secretary, who has largely refrained from publicly criticizing Pelosi as Trump and other Republicans did during the economic talks, praised his perhaps most aggressive attacks on the Speaker of Parliament since the two began bailing out the Corona virus in March.
Mnukhin responded with a letter of his own in which he accused Pelosi of a “political feat” because he only learned of the letter she sent him around midnight through media reports. A high-ranking democratic advisor told Tekk.tv that the letter was first sent to Mnukhin’s associates at 12:05 pm on Thursday. Politico reported on the correspondence for the first time around 6 a.m.
The Treasury Secretary rejected Pelosi’s indication that he would not yet give feedback on the unresolved policy and that it was her fault that the Democrats were preventing the piecemeal aid from reaching the American people while they continued to negotiate for more aid. The problem, according to Mnukhin, is that Pelosi “refused to compromise,” noting that she called the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus “not relevant.
“Her ‘all or nothing’ approach hurts hard-working Americans who need help NOW,” Mnukhin said.
White House Chief Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow also had a problem with Pelosi. He hinted that an agreement would not be reached soon and questioned their true desire to break the deadlock.
“She is stalling. They showed no signs of compromise on the most important issues,” Kudlow told Fox News. “Our team is now the