(UnitedVoice.com) – The election may be over, but unfortunately, thanks to the consequences of COVID-19 lingering over the nation, the pain of many Americans is not. Approximately 21 million Americans are still receiving unemployment, and many small businesses are closing or struggling to survive. With the blue wave’s failure to materialize for Democrats and Republicans expanding their influence in the House, it could change the negotiating stance.
Late last summer, the two chambers and the White House were unable to agree on a deal. In June, the Democratic-led House passed a $3.4 trillion bill. That went nowhere in the Republican-led Senate, which passed its own $1 trillion bill late in the summer. Before the election, the White House offered $1.9 trillion, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) refused to budge from the House’s revised $2.2 trillion offer. The negotiations collapsed just before the November 3 election.
In March, President Trump signed into law the $2.2 trillion CARES Act. It included $1,200 per individual and a $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit. It also supported small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as well as protections from evictions for renters and homeowners that expired in August.
Is a Deal Still Possible?
Both sides agree that a relief bill is needed to help ailing Americans and businesses. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is said to be taking the lead on the negotiations. While not stated, it may be wise considering the Senate will remain in Republican hands, and the presidential election is undecided as of 3:00 pm ET on Friday, November 6.
Congress will be in a lame-duck session until the newly elected members are sworn-in in early January. However, McConnell said another relief package is still needed, and Congress could pass one before the end of the year.
What Could a Deal Look Like?
It’s unknown if Pelosi will concede and agree to a smaller package that can pass in the Senate. However, it could still be her best shot to get a deal done. Democrats lost seats, and the Speaker’s negotiating power is not as strong as it was before the election when political analysts projected Democrats would pick up seats.
On Friday, November 6, McConnell said the GDP growth in the third quarter and improving employment numbers in October demonstrated the economy was growing faster than expected. He said something smaller was more in line with the $500 billion the Senate passed in September.
Additionally, Pelosi called on the Trump administration to return to the negotiating table on Friday. However, she said a smaller deal would not be acceptable to the House.
So, it’s back to where it started. Time will tell if the two sides can agree on a relief package moving forward.
Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst
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