Second stimulus check: why is McConnell advising against the deal?

Mitch McConnell recommends that the White House wait on passing a big stimulus package while negotiations continue between Pelosi and Mnuchin.

Second stimulus check: why does McConnell advise against the deal? 

On Tuesday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his fellow Senate Republican colleagues that he had advised the White House against passing a large stimulus bill until after the election at a closed-door lunch according to reporting in the Washington Post. He said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is negotiating in bad faith with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in an attempt to delay the Senate's plans to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court next week.

Any legislation that did come to the Senate from the on-going negotiations would be unlikely to get through the body as he was unable to pass legislation over $1 trillion with a Republican defection. Instead Mr. McConnell put to vote on the floor smaller packages to extend the Paycheck Protection Program to use leftover funds from the CARE Act worth $258 billion. Also he tried to pass a $500 billion bill nearly identical his “skinny” bill from September.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer called them “show votes on coronavirus relief.” The bills failed to include stimulus check money among other things that Democrats want as part of a more comprehensive relief package. Mr. Schumer made his own procedural motions to try to close the Senate to delay the Supreme Court confirmation but was defeated by the Republicans.

Nancy Pelosi and Steve Mnuchin are still talking

House Speaker Nancy and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have carried on with talks this week getting closer to each other's positions. The White House’s position has inched up to around $2 trillion and Ms. Pelosi has expressed some wiggle room on her positions. There still exists a fair gap between the two but Ms. Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill expressed that, “Their conversation (yesterday) provided more clarity and common ground.”

The main sticking points are still on the amount of funding for unemployment benefits, schools and funding for state and local governments. On the last point President Trump and Republicans have been critical of this saying that it is Democrat controlled states were fiscally irresponsible before the pandemic and that is why they are now in dire straits. Looking at the economic impact of the pandemic the worst states hit were, but not exclusively, Democrat-led but generally with larger denser urban areas or heavily dependent on tourism.

Even if the White House and the Democrats reach a compromise Mr. McConnell will have the final say. He has said if a deal is reached and the House passes it he would put it to a vote on the floor of the Senate. With his comments on Tuesday any stimulus happening before the election looks like a longshot.

No new deals since April

Attempts to pass more stimulus for the economy and people affected by the crisis induced by the covid-19 pandemic in congress haven’t been successful since April. In August President Trump signed an executive order to shore up unemployment benefits with $300 a week out of FEMA funds. But those funds were limited and have been exhausted in most states that signed up for them and many of the programs initially passed have expired.

America wants and needs stimulus

Economists are urging that the US inject more stimulus into the economy. As well the Fed Chair Jerome Powell has been sounding the alarm that if more stimulus isn’t sent out the US economy will relapse as is starting to happen.

The American public is in favor of more stimulus too, with 72 percent supporting it according to a New York Times and Siena poll. Even 56 percent of Republican voters are onboard with pumping $2 trillion more into the economy.