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Stimulus Update: House Dems Delay Vote On New $2.2 Trillion Stimulus Bill; Common Ground On Stimulus Checks, But Chasm On State Aid

Stimulus Update: House Dems Delay Vote On New $2.2 Trillion Stimulus Bill; Common Ground On Stimulus Checks, But Chasm On State Aid

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats are delaying a vote on the $2.2 trillion updated Heroes Act to give Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin more time to negotiate. The $2.2 trillion proposal included a second $1,200 stimulus check, $600 federal unemployment benefits, and over $400 billion in aid to states and cities.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats are delaying a vote on the $2.2 trillion updated … [+] Heroes Act to give Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin more time to negotiate. The $2.2 trillion proposal included a second $1,200 stimulus check, $600 federal unemployment benefits, and over $400 billion in aid to states and cities.

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The House of Representatives delayed a planned Wednesday night vote on the updated Heroes Act to allow more time for negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The two will meet again Thursday in an attempt to find more common ground and a path to passing the next round of stimulus aid. Democrats now plan to vote on the proposal on Thursday, giving roughly 24 more hours for a bipartisan deal to come to fruition. “We’ll have to see. If we have an agreement, we’re going to pass that agreement, then we’re done until after the election,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said today.

There had been cautious optimism as languishing negotiations picked up again this week. After a 50 minute phone discussion yesterday, Pelosi and Mnuchin had a 90-minute in-person meeting today. While the two emerged from the meeting without a deal, both expressed a desire to continue the conversation. “We’re gonna go back and do a little more work again,” Mnuchin told reporters. “I think we’ve made a lot of progress in a lot of areas.” Pelosi was more measured in her comments, saying that the two “found areas where we are seeking further clarification,” and that “our conversations will continue.”

Pelosi had walked Mnuchin through a scaled-back $2.2 trillion Heroes Act proposal on Tuesday. The updated Heroes Act proposal cut $1.2 trillion from the original Heroes Act passed in May. To reduce the overall cost of the bill, Democrats had cut certain provisions, like hazard pay, and also changed the timing of certain benefit areas, like temporarily lifting the cap on state and local tax deductions for only one year instead of two.

Going into Wednesday’s session, Mnuchin said that there was common ground ground between the White House and House Democrats on many areas such as a second stimulus check, aid to airlines and their employees, and small business loans; however, there was still a lack of agreement about additional aid to states and cities as well as liability protections for businesses. After huddling with President Trump and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Mnuchin said that “the president instructed us to come up significantly, so we have come up from the trillion dollar deal.”

Pelosi had originally indicated that House Democrats would proceed with a floor vote on the update Heroes Act Wednesday night. “We will be proceeding with our vote tonight. . . in order to formalize our proffer to Republicans in the negotiations to address the health and economic catastrophe in our country,” she said in her statement. However, with negotiations appearing fruitful, Democrats have decided to delay a floor vote to give additional time for bipartisan talks between Pelosi and Mnuchin.

Even if Pelosi and Mnuchin reach an agreement, they will then need to persuade Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans to take up the new bill. Senate Republicans had reduced the cost of their proposed bill, originally offering the $1 trillion Heals Act only to then move for a vote on a skinny bill that came in at roughly $300 billion. Given the $2.2 trillion updated Heroes Act and the fact that Mnuchin was expected to counter with a package worth closer to $1.5 trillion, the gap with Senate Republicans remains large.

McConnell said that asking Senate Republicans to approve up to $2.2 trillion “is outlandish.” “It’s safe to say we’re far apart,” he told reporters. His sentiment was reinforced by Senator John Thune, who said that any bill over $1 trillion would risk fragmenting the GOP. “As the price goes up, the Republican vote total goes down,” he said.

The schism between the White House and Senate Republicans is notable given McConnell’s painstaking attempt to project unity over the past few months. “We’re basically assessing what we’ve done already. I’m in constant communication with the White House and if we decide to go forward we’ll go forward together,” McConnell told reporters in May. “The president and Senate Republicans are going to be in the same place.” he added.

As of today, that may no longer be the case.

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