With election day closing in, experts are now predicting that a second stimulus check is unlikely to come until after the ballots are cast. After the U.S. Senate's latest attempt at a "skinny bill" was blocked, even the lawmakers themselves are beginning to doubt that they can get the legislation passed. This stalemate is likely to impact the re-election campaigns of many of those senators and representatives.
"Well, looking to the House and for that matter our colleagues across the aisle — it's a sort of a dead-end street, and very unfortunate, but it is what it is," Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts told CNN this weekend. Roberts, a Republican, pointed to the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives to blame, while Democrats continue to point to the Republican-controlled Senate. Both openly accuse the other of failing the American people, while the millions of unemployed Americans are fed up with the indecision, regardless of its source.
Other senators have shared similarly dire words on the stimulus negotiations. Alabama Sen. Dick Shelby was asked if the talks for a stimulus check were officially dead, and reportedly said: "It looks that way." He indicated that the Republicans in the Senate had done everything in their power to get a helpful bill passed.
"You never know around here. Sometimes things look bleak and they're revived, and so forth. We thought the scaled-down version was a good bill, a good timing and everything else. The Democrats obviously thought otherwise. That's all we can do, is tee it up and go with it," Shelby said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters: "I wish I could tell you we were going to get another package but it doesn't look that good right now." At the same time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly told Democrats not to compromise too much in the ongoing negotiations.
"We don't want to go home without a bill, but don't be a cheap date. When you are in a negotiation, the last place to get weak knees is at the end," Pelosi said in a private conference call on Thursday.
Some analysts have hoped that the government funding deadline — Sept. 30 — might become the new goalpost for passing a stimulus check. However, Pelosi reportedly said that she and the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have already decided against it. "Those negotiations are separate from this," she said.
These discouraging words from the U.S. Congress follow on the heels of commentary from White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who said last week that "we can live without" another stimulus check. While lawmakers seem to be less cavalier about the sentiment, they may be resigned to that outcome.