Second stimulus checks: Vote on GOP’s coronavirus relief plan slated for next week

Coronavirus stimulus

The U.S. Capitol is seen the night before Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on her nomination to serve as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, in Washington, U.S. October 11, 2020. (REUTERS/Erin Scott)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — A key negotiator is warning that a deal on a federal coronavirus stimulus package is unlikely before the presidential election, while the Senate prepares for a procedural vote on a GOP-drafted relief bill next week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rescheduled a procedural vote on a scaled-back $500 billion COVID-19 bill for Monday. The Republican senator from Kentucky said in a statement Tuesday that the Senate will vote on the federal coronavirus stimulus bill when the chamber returns on Oct. 19.

Democrats filibustered a GOP-drafted aid bill last month and recent talks on a larger deal between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi deteriorated last weekend.

Mnuchin on Wednesday warned that a deal is unlikely before the November election. Mnuchin said he and the Democratic senator from California were still “far apart” on some issues.

“I’d say at this point, getting something done before the election and executing on that would be difficult just given where we are and the level of detail, but we’re going to try to continue to work through these issues,” Mnuchin said at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Washington.

Despite growing pressure to hammer out a fiscal stimulus deal to help Americans during the pandemic, the two sides remain divded over several issues.

Last week, the White House boosted its COVID-19 aid offer to roughly $1.8 trillion, with a key state and local fiscal relief component moving from $250 billion to at least $300 billion. The White House says its most recent prior offer was about $1.6 trillion.

Meanwhile, Pelosi is calling for a $2.2 trillion package. Democrats have made it clear they will not do a piecemeal approach until the Trump administration signs off on a broader, comprehensive plan they are proposing for virus testing, tracing and other actions to stop its spread. 

Talks on the latest potential round of COVID relief began in July, collapsed in August, and were revived last month.

“The president has said to me, keep at this until you get this done,” Mnuchin said. He said a deal could be reached quickly if Pelosi compromises.

“If we don’t get it now, when the president wins the election we’ll get it passed quickly afterwards,” Mnuchin said.

Pelosi recently said in a letter to her colleagues, “A fly on the wall or wherever else it might land in the Oval Office tells me that the President only wants his name on a check to go out before Election Day and for the market to go up.”

Drew Hammill, deputy chief of staff for Pelosi, described negotiations on Wednesday as productive, but added that the Trump administration’s lack of a national strategic testing plan for the virus remained a “major area of disagreement.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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