Those at the negotiation table now have just 48 hours to reach a deal on another stimulus relief package. Imposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Sunday evening, this means that she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have until Tuesday to strike an agreement for additional relief to be approved by Election Day, but what will happen if that deadline is missed?
In the scenario that Tuesday comes and goes much like every other day amid the months-long negotiations, the American people will have to wait even longer for relief to come. Due to the legislative process, an agreement that is made after Tuesday would not be able to pass through both chambers of Congress – the House of Representatives and the Senate – before Nov. 3, when Americans will head to the polls. That doesn’t mean that any chance of an additional stimulus package would be squashed, however, as Pelosi and Mnuchin will continue negotiations even after that 48-hour mark, though additional aid would be delayed, Pelosi's office told CNN.
Pelosi and Mnuchin have been negotiating, largely via phone calls, for months in an effort to reach a deal on another coronavirus relief package before the November election. Those discussions began in July following the GOP-introduced HEALS Act, though their talks eventually lapsed due to their inability to see eye-to-eye. Discussions resumed in late September, with both Pelosi and Mnuchin at the time expressing hope that they would be able to find common ground in their final push to reach an agreement. Speaking on ABC's This Week Sunday night, where she gave an update on where negotiations stand, Pelosi said reaching a deal "depends on the administration."
"We don't have agreement in the language yet, but I'm hopeful," the speaker said when asked if she and the Trump administration were any closer to reaching a deal. "I'm optimistic because, again, we’ve been back and forth on all of this."
Drew Hammill, Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, said Saturday that "there remains work to do to ensure there is a comprehensive testing plan that includes contact tracing and additional measures to address the virus' disproportionate impact on communities of color." According to Pelosi, the White House has taken "out 55% of the language" Democrats had used in this provision, replacing words such as "shall" and "requirements" to "may" and "recommendations," which she said could "make the funding a slush fund for the Administration which 'may' grant or withhold rather than a prescribed, funded plan to crush the virus."
At this time, it remains unclear if Pelosi and Mnuchin will be able to make the Tuesday deadline. According to Pelosi, and as reported by ABC News, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who previously said he wouldn’t consider a compromise package of $1.8 trillion, has said that he would put an agreement on the Senate floor for a vote.