Second stimulus checks: Could a COVID-19 relief bill pass before the election?

Coronavirus stimulus

FILE – In this April 23, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump’s name is seen on a stimulus check issued by the IRS to help combat the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Though it appears there will be no COVID-19 relief bill before Election Day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi still thinks it’s possible — but says it’s up to President Donald Trump.

On Friday, Pelosi said a bill could be passed before Election Day if Trump “wants to” approve it.

“The biggest step forward… in the negotiations is, I think they’re about to embrace the science in a substantial way,” Pelosi told MSNBC. “We put pen to paper…we are writing the bill, and hopefully we will be able to resolve it…we could do that before the election if the president wants to.”

Friday evening, Pelosi’s Deputy Chief of Staff Drew Hammill said on Twitter the speaker remains hopeful a deal on coronavirus relief can be reached with the White House soon.

“As part of the negotiations, committee chairs have made some headway. Committees and staff will continue to work through the weekend,” Hammill said. “The Speaker and Secretary Mnuchin will speak again once additional progress is made. Speaker and Treasury staff will continue to be in close contact.”

A deal before Nov. 3 would likely result in a new round of stimulus checks before the end of 2020 in addition to money for unemployment benefits, schools, and state and local governments.

During Thursday night’s debate, Trump blamed Pelosi for the fact no deal has been reached saying she doesn’t want to do anything that would help him.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s Republican leader, has told his fellow Republicans that he warned the White House against striking a trillion-dollar relief deal with Pelosi before the Nov. 3 election.

Biden reminded viewers in Thursday’s presidential debate that the Democratic-controlled House passed a relief bill months ago. He asked Trump why he isn’t talking to his “Republican friends” about a deal.

While McConnell and Trump appear to be moving in different directions on a relief package, Pelosi continues to negotiate a deal with Trump’s emissary, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Mnuchin and Pelosi continue to signal progress even as Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows said Pelosi is slow-walking.

“We haven’t seen a lot of action from Speaker Pelosi,” Meadows said. “Most of the progress we’ve made have been concessions that the president has made.”

On the table is a huge virus relief bill that would send another $1,200 direct payment to most Americans, restart bonus unemployment benefits, fund additional testing and vaccines, provide aid to schools and allocate money to states and local governments, a Democratic priority.

A $1.8 trillion rescue plan in March passed virtually unanimously. The Pelosi-pushed package today is even larger but has run into resolute opposition from Republicans. Taking care of the issue would clear the decks for a fresh start on the congressional agenda next year.

Senate Democrats blocked a Senate GOP plan that McConnell brought to a vote Wednesday. The measure contained more than $100 billion for schools, a $300 per week supplemental unemployment insurance benefit, and more subsidies for businesses especially hard hit by pandemic-related downturns and closures. It does not include the $1,200 direct payments that are so important to Trump.

The White House has said it’s gone as high as $1.9 trillion to meet Pelosi’s demand for a $2.2 trillion deal.

Trump says that if he wins reelection, aid will flow immediately. If he loses, it’s unclear whether his enthusiasm for delivering it will be as strong.

“I’m never very optimistic about the lame-duck and I’ve never been surprised,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. “You don’t get near as much done as you think you’re going to get done.”

Those Republicans willing to speculate about a Trump loss in two weeks say not to expect much, either.

“I think Democrats would want to wait until the new president is sworn in and do it then and I think Republicans probably would say … the economy’s taking care of it,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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