Weeks after negotiations collapsed on Capitol Hill regarding an additional stimulus package, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is casting doubt that further relief is on the way. Speaking with reporters at a hospital event in Kentucky on Wednesday, McConnell, whose HEALS Act has yet to pass either chamber of Congress, admitted that he is unsure that the White House and top Democrats will be able to strike a deal.
"I don't know if there will be another package in the next few weeks or not," McConnell said, according to The Hill, explaining that the once cooperative attitudes that had come to the table following the first stimulus proposal, the CARES Act, in March, have "descended" into a partisan impasse. McConnell said that despite this, lawmakers are "giving it our best."
McConnell also seemed to suggest that the impasse is at least partially due to the upcoming 2020 election. He explained that negotiations and passing legislation are "harder to do now because we're so much closer to the election," adding that "the cooperative spirit we had in March and April has dissipated as we've moved closer and closer to the election." Before the collapse in discussions, it had been believed that passing addition relief would grow more difficult closer to the election, with some reports having even suggested that a deal may not be reached at all if one was not struck before Congress' August recess, as lawmakers would turn their attention to other issues and the election.
The majority leader's remarks come as recent calls between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows failed to break the ice. Following a 25-minute conversation with Meadows last week, Pelosi, in a statement, announced that negotiations are at "a tragic impasse," claiming that "the White House continues to disregard the needs of the American people" and the GOP "continue to turn their backs on the American people." A subsequent call on Tuesday with Mnuchin made no further progress, with Pelosi stating that the call "made clear that Democrats and the White House continue to have serious differences understanding the gravity of the situation that America's working families are facing."
Despite this complete break in discussions and the fading hope that a deal will be reached, Senate Republicans are expected to introduce a new proposal next week. This proposal will be slimmer than all other bids made thus far, with a price tag of just $500 billion, and offer a more targeted response. It is believed that this proposal will not include stimulus payments.