Despite the most recent reports suggesting that little to no progress has been made amid stalled stimulus relief bill negotiations, the White House is expressing hope that a deal could be struck before the upcoming 2020 presidential election. Speaking Tuesday with Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, one of four major players at the negotiation table, revealed that he is "more optimistic" about a possible deal than he has been in a "long time."
Asked whether he believes it possible for a deal to be reached by election day, which is Nov. 3, Meadows said, "I do." The chief of staff admitted that he is "not sure" if this will actually happen, though he does "believe we'll see that, only because I've had a number of conversations, probably a dozen sometimes a day, with different rank-and-file members." He said that through these conversations, it has become clear that lawmakers are "listening to their constituents."
A recent Gallup poll found that 70% of American voters supported an additional stimulus package that would include a second round of stimulus checks. In recent weeks, Americans have grown more vocal in their demands for lawmakers to put their differences aside to reach an agreement. Due to this, and members of Congress listening to these calls, Meadows told Bartiromo that he is "more optimistic today than I have been in a long time."
This hope, however, has been contradicted by other members of the GOP, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Officially set to introduce a new stimulus proposal this week, McConnell, speaking last week in Kentucky, expressed doubt that a bipartisan agreement has any chance of being reached, something that he believes is at least partially due to the November election. Although he said he would "like to see one more rescue package," McConnell added that he is unsure if it will happen as " he environment in Washington right now is exceedingly partisan because of the proximity to the election." He said that he "can't promise one final package."
Negotiations on a final relief package had begun on Capitol Hill in late July after the GOP introduced the HEALS Act. Those discussions, taking place between Meadows, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, quickly became deadlocked before ultimately collapsing. As the talks remained stalled, Congress went on recess, with the Senate returning to Capitol Hill on Tuesday. The House of Representatives is scheduled to reconvene on Monday, Sept. 14.