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Donald Trump told Fox And Friends that he still has hopes for an economic stimulus bill and told Republican senators he wanted to “do it even bigger than the Democrats.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called for a pandemic relief bill costing $2.2 trillion — a number far higher than the $1.8 trillion that Trump said he would back last week.
But we’re another week closer to the election and polls show a stimulus bill would be extremely popular with 74 percent of Americans saying they want the Senate to take up the bill.
But it’s hard to see how Trump can convince the handful of Republican senators he would need to pass any kind of stimulus bill, much less a bill larger than $2.2 trillion.
Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, predicted on Monday that it would be “hard” to get enough GOP support to pass a bill that would be $1.8 trillion or higher.
“Well, we’ll have to talk to Sen. Thune,” Trump said on Fox News when presented with Thune’s comments.
Pelosi has given a deadline of Tuesday to get a deal done with the White House and Senate Republicans. But it doesn’t appear that Republicans are in any hurry to bring such a bill to the floor for a vote.
Even if the two parties are able to broker an agreement, top Senate Republicans have been noncommittal about bringing it up for a vote.
“Their natural instinct depending on how big it is and what’s in it is probably going to be to be against it,” Thune said Monday.
Asked if a price tag between $1.8 trillion to $2.2 trillion would be too much, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), while saying that he would want to know what’s in it, said “the answer is yes, that’s too high.”
While getting Republicans to move in a certain direction on any legislation seems akin to herding cats, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is working to unify his caucus behind a smaller pandemic relief bill that has no chance of passing in the House, but that might be something incumbents running for re-election may be able to hang their hats on when facing the voters next month.
McConnell is lining up two items as the final pieces of the chamber’s agenda before the Nov. 3 elections: A GOP-only coronavirus bill and Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination, hoping to give vulnerable incumbents something to tout back in their home states.
The pre-election sprint, Republicans hope, will allow them to draw a contrast with Democrats and paint them as obstructionist on both the global health pandemic and the court fight as the campaign heads into its last two weeks.
The Democrats have had ample opportunity to reach a compromise deal with the GOP Senate and the White House and stuck to the ridiculous idea that the American people need $2 trillion now or they’ll die, or something. The need is there but to claim it’s a “crisis” and we need to spend this money now is the old Democratic trick of not letting a crisis go to waste. The time for panic voting has passed. It’s time for the adults to think of what’s really needed and pass a bill that reflects the reality of what’s going on in America, not hyping catastrophe.