Nearly two months after stimulus relief bill negotiations collapsed on Capitol Hill, discussions between the White House and top Democrats are finally slated to resume. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have both indicated that they are ready to return to the negotiating table in a last-ditch effort to pass additional relief before the 2020 presidential election, with a possible second stimulus check still on the table.
Mnuchin had first indicated that discussions could soon be resuming on Thursday, when he confirmed, "I've probably spoken to Speaker Pelosi 15 or 20 times in the last few days." Although previous phone conversations between Pelosi and Mnuchin, as well as White House chief of staff Mark Meadows had led to "a tragic impasse," Mnuchin revealed that "we've agreed to continue to have discussions" regarding additional relief measures. Just days later, on Sunday, Pelosi herself confirmed such when she told CNN that she is "hopeful for a deal," adding that she would "rather have a deal to put money in people's pockets than to have a rhetorical argument."
Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Mnuchin, and Meadows had begun discussing additional relief measures in late July after the GOP, led by Mitch McConnell, introduced the HEALS Act. That proposal had proved controversial, mostly due to the $1 trillion price tag, and negotiations eventually faltered, sparking fear that no additional relief was coming. A second GOP-backed bill, with an even smaller price tag, never even made it to the negotiation table.
As both sides signal that they are prepping to resume discussions, House Democrats are reportedly preparing a new proposal. According to The Hill, this bill includes $2.2 trillion in aid, which would roughly be in the middle of the HEALS Act and the May-introduced HEROES Act. The bill would reinstate enhanced unemployment benefits, the Paycheck Protection Program for small-business loan funding, and airline aid. It would also include a second round of stimulus payments, though details of that provision remain unclear.
Rep. Richard Neal, head of the Ways and Means Committee, said the bill could receive a vote as soon as Oct. 2. CNET reports that should a vote occur then, the package could pass before the election, receiving President Donald Trump’s signature by Oct. 4. The outlet also notes that the bill has until Oct. 9 to pass through the Senate, as that is the final day of the Senate’s current session, though McConnell could order members to remain in session longer.