House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress should stay in session until lawmakers and the White House get an agreement on another stimulus package, something that’s looked increasingly distant amid partisan battling.
“We are committed to staying here until we have an agreement,” Pelosi said Tuesday on CNBC. “We are optimistic that the White House at least will understand that we have to do something.”
Pelosi had earlier delivered that message in a conference call with House Democrats. Some members continued to push for passage of a fresh stimulus bill, beyond what the House approved in May, but Pelosi is resisting that approach, according to two officials who were on the call.
There are multiple hurdles in front of any deal. Democrats have show no sign of backing away from their $2.2 trillion package and some Senate Republicans have rejected any stimulus approaching even half that. There is also widespread skepticism that there is enough time between now and the November election to negotiate.
President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, said Tuesday that any new stimulus may have to wait until after the Nov. 3 vote.
“We do think there is a need for another intervention, we’ve reached out to Congress, we’ve been negotiating,” Kushner said on CNBC. “It may have to happen after the election, because there obviously are politics involved. This is Washington.”
Failure to enact stimulus could cost the economy significant momentum as it battles back from the historic contraction suffered earlier this year amid widespread lockdowns to contain the coronavirus. Morgan Stanley economists said forgoing an additional round of relief would postpone by half a year the time when activity would return to pre-Covid-19 levels.
The House is scheduled to break for the election on Oct. 2. But “the overwhelming consensus among the members is that we stick around” until an agreement is reached House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries said at a separate news conference.
Neither he nor Pelosi would say what the absolute deadline would be for a deal before the election.
Talks between Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows broke off Aug. 7 and there have been no meaningful negotiations since then.
A 50-member group of House Democrats and Republicans on Tuesday released their own $1.52 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan in a long-shot attempt to break a months-long deadlock.
The Problem Solvers Caucus plan has been developed for weeks with the knowledge of the White House and leadership from both parties, according to House aides. Mnuchin has referred to the discussions and hinted at a House hearing this month that the White House could accept a $1.5 trillion level of spending.
“None of us want to go anywhere until we can get something done” said New Jersey Democrat Josh Gottheimer, who led the drafting of the plan. New York Representative Tom Reed said the White House has had a “positive” reaction. “They want to get a deal done.”
The group’s proposal offers compromises on the two thorniest issues in the stalled talk. On aid to state and local governments, the group is backing about $500 billion, splitting the difference between the $915 billion sought by Pelosi and Schumer, and the $150 billion put forward by the White House.
On the issue of supplemental unemployment insurance, the group supports $450 per week for eight weeks and then applies a formula for benefits capping them at 100% of previous wages or $600 per week, whichever is lower. Democrats want $600 per week while the White House, citing concerns that such an amount is a disincentive for work, has sought $300 per week.
— With assistance by Josh Wingrove, and Laura Davison
(Updates with Kushner quote, details of alternative plan beginning in sixth paragraph)