Think a coronavirus economic package is just around the corner? Not so fast.
Headlines coming out of capitol hill. This week might have you think. Another round of much-needed coronavirus relief is just a few details away. After months of stalemate since the last relief significant bill was passed back in march. It looks like there is finally some momentum peel back the veneer just a little however and the reality reveals itself to be far more complicated. Let's go through the three options that have captured the imagination of lawmakers and advocates alike. Even more may eventually be thrown onto the negotiating table and elements of each of these may bleed into the others but let's not make this too messy at least not at first one. A bi partisan group of senators on tuesday unveiled a nine hundred and eight billion dollars proposal that looked to split the difference between house. Democrats two point four trillion dollar offer and senate republicans six hundred and fifty billion dollar offer. Part of the total cost would come from some of the five hundred billion dollars in unspent money from the last round of relief so the price tag is a little misleading. It's a stopgap measure that has growing support from rank and file lawmakers who are finding it more and more difficult to justify inaction in pursuit of the perfect. This proposal would stretch through the first fiscal quarter of calendar year. Twenty twenty one or until the end of march and cobble together one hundred and sixty billion dollars to fund a state and local governments that are running on fumes as tax revenue has dried up with the economic downturn. The measure also has more than three hundred billion dollars in loans and grants for small businesses. Twenty five billion dollars in relief for renters an extra three hundred dollars per week for unemployed americans it does not however include an extra twelve hundred dollar stimulus payment. That house speaker. Nancy pelosi and president. Donald trump both backed treasury secretary. Steven mnuchin said. He was reviewing the bipartisan proposal. The white house called it a nonstarter saying it. Plan to work with senate majority leader mitch. Mcconnell and house minority leader kevin mccarthy on targeted covid relief plan to pelosi and senate minority leader. Chuck schumer have their own democrats only outlined for a new offer. They haven't released details but it was sent over to mcconnell in a private letter on monday. The draft was meant to restart negotiations which have been on hold for weeks in most unhelpful. Move mcconnell announced the offers existence and further frustrated democrats who say republicans aren't negotiating in good faith. Democrats have insisted cash be included for state and local governments a major point of dispute for many republicans. Who say it's not washington's problem to fix local budgets. No total cost was attached. Three mcconnell circulated to republicans a new version of the gop plan that would presumably meet with white house approval notably it to did not include a cost meaning to was meant as a negotiating document. The latest incarnation includes small business. Cash a one month extension of base-level unemployment benefits that are set to end at the end of this month. For twelve million americans and legal protections against lawsuits for businesses that are open during the pandemic it notably lacks money for state and local governments. The latest also a plus up unemployment benefits that had been demanded by the white house in earlier drafts in short. Each of these is negotiating. Starting point not a workable idea even lawmakers were at the table for the creation of these ideas acknowledged. they're nowhere near final version. And when you're talking about deals that have perhaps twelve zeros at the end. There's a lot of wrangling left to be done. Meanwhile at least some officials are starting to talk again pelosi. Mnuchin had their first call since election day this week. The pair were the principal negotiators on a follow up deals through the summer until trump abruptly called off negotiations via tweet in october. He later demanded they return. But pelosi wasn't keen to once again. Be set up for failure by amir curiel president in the finals ros of campaign and decided to hold out for the election results. It turns out. Her hand is now weaker as house. Democrats lost seats. President elect joe biden has been in full contact with pelosi and schumer speaking to reporters in delaware on tuesday biden. Said he wants congress to act now. As a first step toward efforts he'd pick up when he takes office on january twentieth but he mcconnell have yet to speak since election day he added for his part. Mcconnell has yet to explicitly say biden is one although he has in roundabout ways suggested he understands who will be in the white house. Come january twenty first. that suggests talks aren't really as far along as some would hope as if this weren't tough enough the. Us government faces a do-or-die moment at the end of next week. The united states is set to run out of cash as the clock ticks past midnight on december eleventh and into december twelve that hard deadline ads and urgency to congress to do something. There is zero political appetite to shut down government in the middle of a pandemic heading into the end of year holiday season. Some lawmakers have talked about attaching corona virus. Relief package to the must pass spending bill in may be a way to get some forward movement but it also gives mcconnell added leverage to limit the size of the tacked on bill. Mcconnell controls the senate floor with an iron grip and ultimately has veto power over the entire agenda in the upper chamber if he says a limited pandemic relief measure is going on the omnibus. it's omnibus arrest for all practical purposes. So we're left with a string of calculations will progressives such a scaled back relief package until they can badger biden in the new year can conservatives stomach any of the red ink and if it does pass will trump sign perhaps the last significant piece of legislation of his one term presidency. The answer to each of those is at best a shruggy emoji without government funding forcing a vote. There's no guarantee mcconnell would bring another round of biden backed relief to the floor. In the new year conservatives will not be eager to give biden early win especially if it carries cash for struggling states and cities and trump seemingly has yet to accept. The movers are showing up at his door next month. It's the perfect cliffhanger for our president who spent so long as a reality show producer hence while the optimism coming off capitol hill. That a solution is in sight is perhaps misdirected.