Why Republicans haven’t passed a new COVID-19 stimulus bill — putting them at odds with Trump

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Senate Republicans sprung into action this week to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, additional stimulus spending is in doubt before the election.

Following unnerving highs of unemployment in the spring set off by the coronavirus outbreak, the labor market has not yet fully rebounded, according to many economists. The unemployment rate, now at 7.9%, is still well above pre-pandemic levels as an estimated 12 million seek work.

“Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned last week when he floated the idea of additional government aid.

The climb in COVID-19 cases around the country is the latest threat to restaurants and other struggling businesses. The country currently faces a daily infection average over 50,000 — a 19% uptick from the average two weeks ago, according to the New York Times. 

Republicans’ rush to confirm a new justice over sending relief to millions of unemployed Americans and state and local governments is the result of longstanding GOP orthodoxies on limited government and transforming the judiciary colliding in a perilous time for the country.

The calculation comes down to a camp of Republicans hoping that a new conservative justice will boost enthusiasm more than the potential risks of being tied to a massive spending package that would increase national debt levels, which some have branded a “blue state bailout.”

This puts them at odds with President Donald Trump, who has abruptly reversed course on bailout talks in recent days and perhaps sensed that Americans’ concerns about the struggling economy are dampening his re-election chances. He has demanded Republicans get back to the negotiating table and “go big.”

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Still, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has refused to consider a large spending package in the coming weeks given his focus on a Supreme Court confirmation. He attempted to answer Trump’s call on Tuesday by signaling a potential vote on a “targeted relief” or so-called skinny relief bill. The Republican leader hasn’t offered many specifics on significant items like direct payments to individuals, relief for health care providers, or state and local government revenue aid.

Similarly, House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, earlier this week rejected the White House’s $1.8 trillion stimulus plan offered through Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Pelosi slammed the deal as too small and claimed on Tuesday that Trump’s renewed interest in relief talks is because he “only wants his name on a check to go out before Election Day and for the market to go up,” Politico reported. 

Regardless, Pelosi has also held firm in her position on reaching comprehensive legislation and promised no votes from her caucus on any bare bones plan offered by the GOP.

Amid the political firestorm, there’s also the issue of time. With only three weeks until Election Day, and the Senate booking its floor timing for a Supreme Court confirmation this month, it’s likely there may just be no room for a stimulus vote.  

How we got here

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Source:: Businessinsider – Politics


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