Rudderless Republicans v Democrats in Disarray
Tiger Beat on the Potomac (thanks Charlie!) morning email thingie breathlessly tells us (emphasis theirs):
We should all begin to focus our attention on the end of this month and the fiscal stimulus/government funding mess that awaits Washington — because it is massive, can easily go off the rails and is very far from being figured out.
THE OVERVIEW: As we’ve mentioned a few times, government funding runs dry Sept. 30. Because Congress is Congress, and the TRUMP White House is the TRUMP White House, Covid relief remains unfinished as well.
THESE TWO DISCUSSIONS –government funding and Covid relief — will be paired this month, and it seems almost inevitable that they get wrapped into one package, which should pass by the end of the month. Our confidence level is low that this will happen without major turbulence, and perhaps a government shutdown. In other words, this is real, so brace for impact.
They then start in on predictions (and gossip)!
A FEW THINGS HAVE BEEN HAPPENING BEHIND THE SCENES:
1) WHEN SENATORS return next week, they are expected to vote on the GOP’s “skinny” (i.e. stripped-down) Covid relief bill — they’re going to call it “targeted,” because some think skinny sounds bad. Everything, including timing, is subject to change, because this is a moving target. As of now, the measure does NOT include direct payment checks, but does include many of the other agreed-upon items like money for schools and unemployment benefits. Senate Republicans are close to garnering 51 votes for this bill, and it seems like the leadership is rowing toward a WEDNESDAY vote. Again — neither timing nor the contents of the bill are set.
— REMEMBER: This bill is not meant to become law, but rather to serve as a marker for where Senate Republicans stand when negotiations begin in earnest. Senate Republicans have yet to garner 51 votes for anything, so this is a step in the right direction for them.
2) WE KEEP HEARING that the House Problem Solvers Caucus is going to come out with a bill or a plan. Cool — but you should ignore this unless they are all going to stick together and vote as a bloc. Power is in coalitions in the House — not statements. If you don’t stick together and vote together, you may as well tweet a statement and move on with your life.
3) PEOPLE SEEM TO BE PUTTING STOCK in Treasury Secretary STEVEN MNUCHIN’S testimony Tuesday, and his promise that he was going to call Speaker NANCY PELOSI. Here’s what PELOSI had to say about that call: “Sadly, this phone call made clear that Democrats and the White House continue to have serious differences understanding the gravity of the situation that America’s working families are facing.” The full Pelosi statement on the 36-minute phone call
— IN OTHER WORDS, PELOSI andthe WHITE HOUSE are no closer to an agreement than they ever were.
Maybe it’s me, but Tiger Beat (as always) seems to be positioning this as Pelosi not budging, when in fact she’s put offers on the table, lowered the amount of money and has asked the 4th Reich to meet her halfway. They’ve refused.
SO … SHOULD WE START THINKING ABOUT A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN? Readers of this fine newsletter will know that we frequently tease the possibility of government shutdowns because they are real, and they happen far more than they probably should.
— CONSIDER THIS: There are, at most, 11 days in session for the two sides to pass government funding, and solve the stimulus riddle that’s had PELOSI, MNUCHIN and White House chief of staff MARK MEADOWS tied up for months. That’s not much time.
COULD TIME and a deadline force the two parties together? Maybe, but serious differences remain between PELOSI, Senate Minority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER and the WHITE HOUSE. For example, Dems want $900 billion in state and local aid, and Republicans want around $150 billion to $200 billion. They also are apart on school aid: Dems want something on the order of $400 billion, and Republicans are at $105 billion.
Get your Quatloos out, Tiger Beat is opening the betting windows!
SOME PEOPLE ARE BETTING THAT HOUSE DEM MODERATES start to buckle. Maybe — but we haven’t seen anything like that yet. Will vulnerable Senate Republicans? Again, it’s possible but we have no evidence of that happening at the moment.