President-elect Joe Biden strengthens the confidence of leading Democrats that Congress can quickly overcome the months of deadlock in Congress over more coronavirus assistance, even as Republicans remain firm in their approach for a “more targeted” bill.
With one of the most controversial presidential elections in decades in the rear-view mirror and with the attention of Congress focused on providing more economic aid during President Donald Trump’s remaining term, top Democrats on Thursday doubled their calls for a comprehensive package to tackle the recession.
“What Joe Biden received in this election was a mandate for a positive initiative on how to grow the economy in a fair way,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The California Democrat was accompanied during a press conference by Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, who said Biden had received a clear directive from the American people.
“This election was more of a referendum about who is good with COVID than anything else,” said the New York Democrat. “The Donald Trump approach was rejected, the Joe Biden approach was accepted, and therefore we believe there is a better chance of getting a bill in the lame duck. If only Republicans would stop accepting the ridiculous nonsense Trump is forcing them to do in the elections and focus on what the people need.
But these hopes were dashed just a few minutes later. In a conversation with reporters on the other side of the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected Democratic expectations of a major spending bill during the lame session of Congress that drags on until the new Congress on January 3.
“This is not a place I think we are ready to go,” McConnell said. “But I think there must be another package. Hopefully, we can break the deadlock we’ve been at for four or five months and work seriously to do something that’s appropriate.
The Kentucky Republican and his colleagues from the GOP said they were prepared to pass a more narrowly defined bill that would cost in the region of $500 billion. Meanwhile, the Democrats still have a plan in mind of about $2.2 trillion.
“In my view, the level at which the economy continues to improve underscores the need to do something about the amount we put on the table in September and October: very focused on the remaining problems,” McConnell added.
The result was the same as it had been for months: Washington’s most powerful figures in Congress intervened in their wishes and were unable to end the stalemate to provide more aid to millions of Americans in the midst of a pandemic that devastated the finances of many families. There are currently no ongoing negotiations.
The return to the upper budget could be the last hope of the Democrats to pass the amount of aid they have been trying to achieve since May. Control of the Senate is in limbo until January 5, when Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia face a run-off vote against their Democratic challengers.
But this is a steep hill to climb. Although Biden could turn the peach state blue for the first time since Bill Clinton’s victory – in anticipation of a recount that will be conducted by hand Democrats – the Democrats would have to turn both Senate seats over for the party to gain control of the legislature.
Meanwhile, Pelosi and Schumer declared that their demands before and after the election for a major stimulus package would remain. “We are in the same place, even more so,” Pelosi said. “It has been our position all along: destroy the virus, honor our heroes, put money in the pockets of the American people,” Pelosi said.
When asked if she and the Trump administration had tried to get the talks back on track, she declined to answer.
In addition, Pelosi said that Republicans still lack compassion and empathy as GOP lawmakers press the GOP for their slimmed-down, half trillion dollar proposal.
“They seem to have a mental block on doing the right thing, a moral block on respecting what they are doing to American families,” added the House Speaker. “What do they think? Or do I just use the word “think” loosely?”.