WaPost reporter wonders whether House stimulus vote could raise pressure on McConnell

Washington Post reporter Jeff Stein told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball and Saager Enjeti that a drop in weekly jobless claims on Thursday is little comfort given the massive unemployment caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Weekly claims fell to 787,000 in the report issued Thursday, but Stein said this is cold comfort.

“Some modest signs of progress, maybe, but at this point we’ve seen such a huge increase in the number of permanently unemployed that those [numbers] are really cold comfort,” said Stein.

“We’re already seeing excesses of the levels from the Great Recession of people permanently falling out of the labor force. And this number, it’s one that the initial unemployment claims that we saw when this started were unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are negotiating a new COVID-19 relief package. It’s unclear, however, if a deal will be reached and a vote will be held before the elections. 

Stein questioned if some House Republicans would support a deal backed by Trump, and if that would raise pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to back it. McConnell has been cool to the size of the $1.8 trillion to $2.2 trillion measure. 

“If Pelosi and Mnuchin get an agreement, and Trump gets behind it, how many House Republicans go along?”, said Stein. “Because if a ton of House Republicans go along, Mitch McConnell may have to back off of his aversion to putting this on the floor before the Senate before the election.

“And I’ve heard some estimates that there are many as 60-70 House Republicans who will just go along with whatever Trump is fully enthusiastically endorsing.”

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