Politics Stimulus Bill Must Be Priority Over Campaigning, Bipartisan Members of Congress Tell House Leaders
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A group of 34 Democratic and Republican representatives are pushing House leaders to keep members of Congress in Washington to work on a coronavirus relief package instead of letting them go back home to campaign for re-election.
The House is set to adjourn in October so some members can return to their districts for local work and to campaign ahead of the November 3 election. With talks on a new bill still at an impasse, the bipartisan group of legislators stressed in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy the importance of remaining in the Capitol until a deal is reached.
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There's still time for Congress to get more stimulus money to Americans before the election. But time is running out. Here's where politicians will have to compromise, and how quickly funds could be dispensed if they do.But if Democrats and Republicans are able to come to a compromise, Americans could receive more money as soon as October.
"We were elected to represent the best interests of our constituents and the country," the letter says. "Our constituents' expectations in the midst of the crisis are that we not only rise to the occasion and stay at the table until we have delivered the relief they so desperately need, but also that we set aside electoral politics and place the needs of the country before any one region, faction or political party."
At a time when businesses are closing, families are struggling to pay their bills and schools are trying to reopen, the legislators said, constituents don't want them campaigning.
Second Stimulus on Hold as Lawmakers Break for Weekend and Debate Ginsburg Replacement
Senate GOP leaders have not moved from a $650 billion measure that was thwarted by the Democrats.Senate Republicans and the White House had rejected the House Democrats' $3 trillion bill and although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave a $2.2 trillion marker in August, Senate GOP leaders have not moved from a $650 billion measure that the Democrats stopped last week.
Months after Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March with overwhelming bipartisan support, that unity has largely disappeared from Capitol Hill. Republicans charge that the Democrats are trying to push through a "wish list" of items under the guise of pandemic relief, while Democrats accuse the Republicans of not taking the economic crisis seriously and failing to recognize or provide the immense help people need.
Both parties have put forth bills, one from the Democrats in May and the other from Republicans in July, only to be thwarted by the other side of the aisle. Democratic leaders and a team from the White House spent weeks attempting to bridge the gap in their differences, only to end up at a stalemate. While the two sides agree on some provisions, including another round of stimulus checks, talks have made little progress since they stalled in August, and the negotiators have yet to reach an agreement on a comprehensive package.
U.S. Stimulus Prospects Darken With Partisan Strains Over Court
The eruption of a partisan battle over replacing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg damaged already-slim prospects for another round of U.S. fiscal stimulus, threatening to undermine the recovery in coming months. © Bloomberg The U.S. Capitol stands past columns of the U.S. Supreme Court at dusk in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, April 16, 2020. President Donald Trump threatened Wednesday to try to force both houses of Congress to adjourn -- an unprecedented move that would likely raise a constitutional challenge -- so that he can make appointments to government jobs without Senate approval.
To "stay at the table," the bipartisan group of legislators said the House of Representatives must be in session. On September 15, Pelosi told the House Democratic Caucus, "We have to stay here until we have a bill." However, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer foresees most lawmakers returning to their districts after the scheduled session ends on October 2 and being called back if a deal emerges.
"It tells members, 'Look, we know the election's coming up, we know you want to go back and campaign. But understand this is a priority,'" Hoyer said on a press call.
Will Distractions Kill COVID-19 Stimulus Talks Until After the Election?
Now there’s a bitter Supreme Court confirmation fight and a possible government shutdown dividing the parties and distracting their leaders.But with Nancy Pelosi and the White House staff actually conducting the stimulus negotiations (when they are being conducted at all), Politico Playbook speculated that there was a possibility the wild action in the Senate would provide some cover for quiet stimulus talks:
Another round of relief isn't just a priority but the "number one priority," according to the legislators' letter, and therefore Pelosi and McCarthy must keep the House in session.
Newsweek reached out to Pelosi and McCarthy for comment but did not receive responses in time for publication.
Among those who signed the bill were Representatives Tom Reed and Josh Gottheimer, co-chairs of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers. Last week, the 50-member bipartisan caucus unveiled a framework for another relief package that combined Republican and Democratic positions. It includes funding for coronavirus testing, a federal unemployment benefit, another round of stimulus checks and aid and liability protection to businesses.
While the framework was an encouraging sign to the White House, chief of staff Mark Meadows said state and local aid remained a roadblock. The plan allocated $500 billion to such aid, an amount Meadows said was still too high, but he praised the inclusion of a provision that would reduce funding by $130 billion based on hospitalization metrics and vaccine progress.
With the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week, the talks will be in even further disarray as the GOP-controlled Senate moves forward on bringing President Donald Trump's nominee to a vote. If the negotiations take a backseat to filling Ginsburg's seat, it's unlikely there will be another relief package before the election, and possibly not even before the end of the year.
"We recognize that we cannot dictate the actions of the Senate, but we can, in the People's House, continue to work to deliver actual relief to the American people," the 34 legislators wrote in their letter.
Nancy Pelosi and Steve Mnuchin Fail to Agree on Stimulus Deal Yet Again .
"Today, Secretary Mnuchin and I had an extensive conversation and we found areas where we are seeking further clarification," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. "Our conversations will continue.""Today, Secretary Mnuchin and I had an extensive conversation and we found areas where we are seeking further clarification," Pelosi said in a statement. "Our conversations will continue.