Americans may have to wait even longer for an additional stimulus relief bill as the focus on Capitol Hill turns to the appointment and confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice. Although numerous lawmakers had expressed a desire to pass additional relief before the 2020 presidential election, another bill, already delayed due to deadlocked negotiations, will likely face even further delays following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
According to Forbes, the chances of Congress passing another stimulus package before the election have "dropped dramatically." Passing a bill prior to the election had already seemed like a long shot, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitting earlier this month that the outlook on an additional relief package "doesn't look that good right now." Still, moves had been made to push legislation through both chambers of Congress. Now, however, almost all hope has been dashed.
The extended delay largely comes down to the fact that Republicans, led by President Donald Trump, are making a push to have Ginsburg's vacancy on the Supreme Court filled sooner rather than later. The Washington Post reports that Republican leaders including McConnell, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Thom Tillis and Trump are moving quickly to install a Republican-picked replacement for Ginsburg before November. The president has already vowed to appoint a woman. McConnell, meanwhile, much to the dismay of his Democratic counterparts, has already promised that "President Trump's nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate." Although McConnell did not clarify if that vote would take place before or after the upcoming election, it signals that the Senate will be focused on a Supreme Court confirmation process, making it unlikely, if not impossible, for any stimulus relief legislation to make it through the chamber.
Additional stimulus relief is facing more setbacks than just the controversial and looming Supreme Court vote, though. Forbes reports the upcoming election itself has shifted attention, as all members of the House of Representatives and 35 members of the Senate are up for re-election, with those members expected to put heavy emphasis on campaigning in October. Some Senate Republican leaders have already expressed a desire to allow their colleagues to return home as soon as the end of this week to hit the campaign trail. This, however, does not completely dash hope for additional relief, as even if some members do return home to campaign, they can be called back to Capitol Hill for a vote in the scenario that a stimulus relief bill deal is struck.