House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are still working to come to an agreement on another massive stimulus package — but with intense opposition in the Republican Senate, it’s becoming less likely Congress will pass a bill before Nov. 3.
“We still have some big stumbling blocks to get to the finish line, but ultimately this is about saving lives,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn) told Yahoo Finance.
Murphy rejected the idea that Pelosi is dragging out talks until after Election Day for political reasons, as Republicans have suggested in recent weeks.
“Who cares about politics? My constituents in Connecticut can't pay their rent. You should see the lines that exist right now at food banks in my state — and people are literally starving. Businesses who are facing the winter months are looking at a mass extinction event,” Murphy said.
“The problem here has been that the president's position changes on an hourly basis,” he said.
In a news conference with reporters on Thursday, Pelosi also insisted she’s negotiating in good faith.
“If these talks did not have a purpose and if we were not making progress, I wouldn’t spend five seconds in these conversations,” said Pelosi. “I do believe that both sides want to reach an agreement.”
A position that changes ‘on an hourly basis’
Trump and his representatives have changed their position on stimulus negotiations numerous times — calling off talks, restarting talks, urging both targeted bills and a massive, comprehensive deal. Both sides have accused each other of playing politics with stimulus negotiations.
“There is some scuttlebutt out there that [Senate Majority leader] Mitch McConnell is sitting out these negotiations because he does not want to rescue the economy prior to Biden taking office — that he essentially wants to hand Joe Biden a hemorrhaging economy. I hope that isn't true,” Murphy said.
McConnell has said the Senate would consider an agreement between Pelosi and Mnuchin, but it’s not clear if he would put a potential bill on the floor before the election. Republican leaders have acknowledged it will be difficult to find enough Republican support for any bill to make it through the Senate.
As election day nears, Murphy said “there’s no reason” negotiations shouldn’t continue after the polls close, no matter who wins the White House — but he worries Republican lawmakers won’t be motivated to support a bill during a lame-duck session.
“My worry is that there will be a bunch of Republicans — who having voted for massive amounts of deficit financing, both for tax cuts and for coronavirus relief — will all of a sudden become deficit Hawks the minute the election is over, in the case Joe Biden wins,” Murphy said.
Jessica Smith is a reporter for Yahoo Finance based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.