Donald Trump may be the most powerful man in the world but getting a Republican Senate to do his bidding appears to be beyond his reach.
The president tweeted out his desire to get another pandemic stimulus bill done before the election.
Nancy Pelosi couldn’t care less about the American People or the great American Worker. She should approve needed STIMULUS now. Most other Dems agree. Republicans are ready to go, I am ready to sign!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 15, 2020
But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is handling negotiations for the White House with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, appears resigned to not having a package ready.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has become Washington’s latest pessimist on the odds of delivering a massive coronavirus relief package ahead of the Nov. 3 election in just three weeks.
“At this point, getting something done before the election and executing on that will be difficult,” Mnuchin said at the Milken Institute Global Conference on Wednesday.
That skepticism has permeated Washington.
But across Washington, a dose of political realism has begun to set in, with lawmakers and top aides begrudgingly admitting that it would be virtually impossible to clinch a trillion-dollar-plus package in the next 20 days.
Even if a deal could be struck, it would take days to prep the bill, call lawmakers back to Washington and assemble the votes. And that’s only if Senate Republicans are willing to take up the potential legislation at all.
Indeed, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appears to have thrown in the towel and is concentrating on making one of those useless political gestures. He’s asking the Senate to pass a much-slimmed-down pandemic relief bill that contains money for extended unemployment benefits and more loans for small businesses but not much else.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has teed up a vote on a GOP aid bill next week, which would offer more money for unemployment insurance and provide funding for schools and hospitals, in addition to Paycheck Protection Program funding for small businesses.
That bill, though exact details aren’t clear yet, is expected to be far below what Democrats have demanded to help shore up the coronavirus-battered economy.
What about after the election? Depending on what kind of shape the economy is in, a stimulus bill after the election is a possibility. But I suspect that the post-election war will be so intense that no one in Washington will have time — or the desire — to do anything substantive.
The only chance for any kind of stimulus bill this year is for Trump to embrace the Democrats’ plan and tell most of his party to go hang, he’s signing it. That’s not likely simply because Trump will be in no mood to hand Nancy Pelosi a victory. But lame-duck Congresses are very unpredictable with some defeated or retiring members freed from party constraints voting in surprising ways.