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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

Jan 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy
Scoop

White House plots "full-court press" for $1.9 trillion relief plan

National Economic Council director Brian Deese speaks during a White House news briefing. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Biden White House is deploying top officials to get a wide ideological spectrum of lawmakers, governors and mayors on board with the president’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief proposal, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The broad, choreographed effort shows just how crucially Biden views the stimulus to the nation's recovery and his own political success.

The Mischief Makers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers are emerging as troublemakers within their parties and political thorns for their leadership.

Why it matters: We're calling this group "The Mischief Makers" — members who threaten to upend party unity — the theme eclipsing Washington at the moment — and potentially jeopardize the Democrats' or Republicans' position heading into the 2022 midterms.

Kaine, Collins' censure resolution seeks to bar Trump from holding office again

Sen. Tim Kaine (center) and Sen. Susan Collins (right). Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are forging ahead with a draft proposal to censure former President Trump, and are considering introducing the resolution on the Senate floor next week.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction, Axios Alayna Treene writes. "I think it’s important for the Senate's leadership to understand that there are alternatives," Kaine told CNN on Wednesday.