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Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a vote on Republicans' $500 billion targeted COVID-19 relief bill, a far less comprehensive package than the $1.8 trillion+ deal currently being negotiated between the Trump administration and House Democrats.

Why it matters: There's little appetite in the Senate for a stimulus bill with a price tag as large as what President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been calling for. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) "skinny" proposal was mostly seen as a political maneuver, as it had little chance of making it out of the Senate.

The state of play: Pelosi extended an artificial Tuesday deadline for a pre-election stimulus deal after making some progress with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the White House's top negotiator. She plans to speak again with Mnuchin on Wednesday afternoon.

  • "I’m pretty happy. I think we have a prospect for an agreement," Pelosi told MSNBC earlier Wednesday. "I’m optimistic, because even with what Mitch McConnell says — we don’t want to do it before the election, but let’s keep working so that we can do it after the election."
  • "We want it before, but again, I want people to know: help is on the way," Pelosi added. "It will be bigger, it will be better, it will be safer, and it will be retroactive."

The other side: McConnell said Tuesday that the Senate would consider a relief bill with presidential sign-off if it passed the House, but he has privately urged the White House not to strike a deal before the election — arguing Pelosi isn't willing to give enough and isn't negotiating in good faith.

  • Senate Republican Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters on Wednesday, "The leader’s position is sort of dictated by the math. I mean, he knows where the votes are and as much as we all want to get a deal, a deal that would pass in the Senate with all Democratic votes and a handful of Republicans is not something the leader would like to happen."
  • White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was asked Wednesday whether the administration would be able to convince McConnell to get on board with a deal. He responded, "I’m more working with Pelosi right now trying to get her to be reasonable. Once we get a deal there, hopefully we’ll be able to discuss the merits with our Senate colleagues."

Go deeper: McConnell says stimulus "unlikely" before election despite Trump's desperation

Go deeper

Michigan GOP leaders after Trump meeting: "We will follow the law"

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty Images

Republican leaders in Michigan said they "have not yet been aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election" in the state after meeting with President Trump at the White House Friday.

Why it matters: The meeting was part of a long-shot effort by Trump and his campaign to prevent Michigan from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state, per NYT. But state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R) and Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield (R) made clear they would not be intimidated into diverging from the normal election process.

Updated 19 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Sen. Kelly Loeffler to return to campaign trail after 2nd negative test

Sen. Kelly Loeffler addresses supporters during a rally on Thursday. Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Sen. Kelly Loeffler's (R-Ga.) campaign announced Monday that she "looks forward to getting back out on the campaign trail" after testing negative for COVID-19 for a second time, following earlier conflicting results.

Why it matters: Loeffler has been campaigning at events ahead of a Jan. 5 runoff in elections that'll decide which party holds the Senate majority. Vice President Mike Pence was with her on Friday.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Key government agency says Biden transition can formally begin

General Services Administrator Emily Murphy. Photo: Alex Edelman/CNP/Getty Images

General Services Administrator Emily Murphy said in a letter to President-elect Joe Biden on Monday that she has determined the transition from the Trump administration can formally begin.

Why it matters: Murphy, a Trump appointee, had come under fire for delaying the so-called "ascertainment" and withholding the funds and information needed for the transition to begin while Trump's legal challenges played out.