McConnell says stimulus "unlikely" before election despite Trump's desperation
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told a Kentucky event on Friday that a coronavirus stimulus deal is "unlikely in the next three weeks," per the Washington Post's Erica Werner.
Our thought bubble: Two sources close to Senate leadership said President Trump is desperate, has zero leverage to push them to support a bill crafted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and congressional Republicans aren’t inclined to wrap themselves any tighter to a sinking ship.
What they're saying: "You’re never going to get a deal out of Pelosi that Republicans can support. So do you really want to divide your party within days of an election?" said a source close to Senate leadership about McConnell's calculations.
- "This entire exercise from Pelosi is basically trying to jam up the Senate in the midst of a Supreme Court confirmation. They know that from a procedural standpoint McConnell can drive this train to conclusion, so what they’re trying do is throw as many roadblocks in the way as possible — and the best way to do that is get the president focused on some extraneous issue."
- "Pelosi’s out there doing 25th Amendment s--t today. Does this sound like a lady who wants a deal? There’s no way McConnell takes his eye off the ball. Republicans are intently focused on the Supreme Court."
The state of play: White House communications director Alyssa Farah said later on Friday that Trump was willing to come up on on the White House's previous offer of a $1.6 trillion stimulus package. She pointed to a $1.8 trillion offer that she said was being made by Mnuchin.
- If offered, the $1.8 trillion figure would still be below the $2.2 trillion bill passed in the House last week. Farah added that the Trump administration wants to "stay below 2 trillion."
- Senate Republicans, including McConnell, have largely been left out of the recent negotiating process between congressional Democrats and the White House.
- Even if Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were to strike a deal — and that's a big if — there is little chance the Senate GOP would get on board with it.
- Complicating matters, Senate Republicans remain far apart on what they want as a conference. They also view Trump and Mnuchin as far more willing to give more to Pelosi than what they're comfortable with — both numbers-wise and on policy.
The bottom line: McConnell doesn’t want to do anything to interrupt the only visible Republican win before the election in his chamber — the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.