Incentive talks close the week in an optimistic tone


On Monday, it looked like nothing was going to happen with the stimulus. It is possible that the transaction will be mediated in a few days.

There is a lot of time. If a bipartisan legislature actually encourages the incentive agreement and presents it in writing by Monday, there is a lot of work left.

He saw Republican senators come in on Thursday with positive comments. They were open to this path, and that’s because it’s actually the only option on the table that can become legal.

“I never hoped to get a bill,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican.

This could change if negotiations are interrupted and management engages to cut out a smaller deal that simply prolongs expiring provisions. But Republican members know that democratic support cannot be gained with their GOP proposal. So if you are a member who wants results, the best strategy is to try this suggestion. You see this now.

There is a lot of hope, but there is still no bill.

The mechanics

Assistants in the process tell me that members work around the clock and are divided into teams to calculate each section of the bill. Whip Dick Durbin, a Democratic senator from Illinois and Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, are quietly working on a compromise on the liability insurance part.

Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney and West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin are working on a formula that could benefit both state and local governments, including possibly setting a cap on how much a state can receive. . The intention would be to prevent the big states from getting as much money as they could have gotten in the last round under the old formula.

Capitol Hill negotiations intensify over Covid-19 aid agreement, but key points of attachment remain

Some members rely on committee staff who are knowledgeable about the provisions around the Paycheck Protection Program. Graham is working with President Donald Trump to support him. And yes, management is regularly informed where these negotiations are going.

A lot is happening. The question is whether it can happen fast enough.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said several concerned assistants said they would like to see a proposal on Monday. That’s what Manchin said publicly.

It’s a little quieter. That way you know people really work.

What do we know so far?

The proposal includes:

  • $ 300 a week in increased federal unemployment benefits (there is still debate about how far this can be retroactive)
  • Continuous suspension of student loan payments
  • More money for the Paycheck Protection Program
  • $ 16 billion to develop and distribute vaccines and test and monitor Covid-19
  • Extension of unemployment programs that allowed concertmakers to submit unemployment insurance
  • Extension of program that allows unemployed Americans to receive 39 weeks instead of 26

What can’t be included?

Don’t expect a second stimulus test this year.  This is where Congress speaks instead

Stimulus checks. Those? So many Republicans have seen that they want to get “yes” to this legislation because the price tag is less than $ 1 trillion, and much of that money is offset by the reuse of money that wasn’t used on the last incentive bill. Many details need to be worked out so that Republicans can finally vote on the proposal, but keeping the price tag below $ 1 trillion was essential.

Currently, it doesn’t seem possible to include $ 1,200 incentive checks for most Americans if members account for the costs of proposals such as the Paycheck Protection Program, state and local funding, and unemployment benefits.

The timing: Members want to pack it all up, from the spending bill to the incentive, voting, and getting out of town by the end of next week. That doesn’t mean it’s not slipping, but there’s a pandemic around them, and what gives impetus now is the deadline. If that slips, it’s a concern that it could slip steadily, and the longer it takes to put a deal together, the more opportunities there are to paralyze and separate the dozens of interests downtown that want their provisions attached to one. from the last remaining bills in Congress.

Republicans who signaled openness to the bipartisan framework

This is not the same as saying “yes”. No one has a bill text, but these members have expressed optimism that the framework could be a step forward. Bold names are part of the bipartisan working group:

  • Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson
  • Senator Susan Collins of Maine
  • Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
  • Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota
  • Senator Bill Cassidy, Louisiana
  • Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski
  • Senator Marco Rubio of Florida
  • Senator Shelley Moore Capito West Virginia
  • Senator John Thune of South Dakota
  • Texas Senator John Cornyn

Is this the new power squad?

The economy is crying out for help.  Washington has to listen

A lot can happen at the end of the year. After the election, members feel encouraged when they step outside the leadership to solve problems. Dynamics change. Add to all this a deadly epidemic that has wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy and people will be motivated.

But what you see now is a formula that, if it works, can be repeated. The House Democrats will have a smaller majority next year. No matter what happens in Georgia, it will be true in the Senate as well. When leaders have fewer votes, middle members can become huge forces.

Next year, it will only take a few GOP senators to stand by President-elect Joe Biden to get to his cabinet, for example.

I don’t want to overestimate: partisans will always grab the Capitol, and the Senate majority leader and speaker will always have power on the floor, but the bipartisan group here clearly demonstrates that the moderates can play a role in the next Congress if they want to.

Two other quick notes

Omnibus discussions continue with leaders trying to close the remaining sticky points. Senate Appropriations President Dick Shelby, head of Alabama and House Majority in Maryland, Steny Hoyer, spoke on the move on Thursday, and assistants say things are moving forward. People are currently in business mode. The expropriators do not want to fail here and have to make an ongoing decision.

Trump continues to argue that he is vetoing the Defense Licensing Act, the Critical Defense Expenditures Bill, because it does not remove a provision that provides broad protection for Internet companies for content they post or are posted by third parties on their websites.

In a Thursday night tweet, Trump wrote, “It looks like Senator Jim Inhofe will not include a Section 230 denunciation clause in the defense bill. It is so bad for our national security and electoral integrity. Last chance I will ever implement. I will. VETO.”

As a reminder, the NDAA enjoys overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress.