It appears that if Donald Trump wants a pandemic relief bill before the November election, he’s going to have to rely on the Democrat minority in the Senate along with a handful of Republicans to get it for him.
Senate Republicans have warned the White House that they will not get any help in pushing a nearly $2 trillion spending bill through Congress and many believe it would be the end of the GOP’s Senate majority if passed. Some members think that a big spending bill would be a betrayal because it would hand House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a victory so close to the election.
At least two GOP senators warned White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that spending as much as $2 trillion on a big bill could backfire at the ballot box. The administration has floated a large spending deal to Pelosi but is trying to get her to back down on some spending levels, but senators said even the White House wants to spend too much, according to multiple sources briefed on the call.
“There’s no appetite right now to spend the White House number or the House number,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), according to two sources briefed on the call.
Senator Mike Lee had an earthy observation on the pandemic relief bill.
Lee offered this analogy, according to two sources briefed on the call: “This bill makes sex look like church.
Lee added that the GOP’s efforts to highlight Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, who is on track to be confirmed before the election, could be hampered by a large spending deal with Pelosi. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) alleged that any such a large spending bill could deflate the economic recovery from the coronavirus devastating economic effects.
Contrary to popular belief, the Senate can walk and chew gum at the same time. They can handle both pandemic relief and the Barrett nomination. Lee is reaching, as his sex and church comment shows.
Other Republicans may have a point about the GOP losing their majority — not because of this bill specifically but because they’ve lost their identity. No longer guardians of the taxpayer’s purse, these massive spending bills pass with barely a whimper from Republicans which does not bode well for the party. Political parties without identities don’t do well in elections for very long.
So is pandemic relief dead? Every time it has appeared to die, Trump has brought it back to life by giving a little bit more to Pelosi. It’s a negtiating tactic that apparently works well in the New York real estate market, but not so good on Capitol Hill. Pelosi is a cagey old congressional negotiator and she can play legislative “chicken” with the best of them. She knows Trump needs this bill and has continued to dangle concessions in front of the president. Whether the end result will be a virus aid bill is anyone’s guess.