On The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline
Happy Thursday and welcome back to On The Money. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.
THE BIG DEAL—Anxious Democrats amp up pressure for vote on COVID-19 aid: House Democrats, increasingly anxious about leaving Washington without acting on coronavirus relief, are amping up the pressure on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to bring emergency aid to the floor before Congress heads home next week.
Pelosi had refused to budge from her demand for a $2.2 trillion package, but a growing number of uneasy centrist Democrats are clamoring to vote on some new stimulus legislation before the House is scheduled to break on Oct. 2.
- Moderate Democrats have taken the remarkable step of threatening to back a Republican move to force relief for small businesses against the wishes of their own leadership.
- The Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of centrist lawmakers, are pressing leaders in both parties to act immediately on a package costing roughly $1.5 trillion.
- And Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) aired a rare public split with Pelosi on Wednesday, saying that Democrats should vote on a partisan relief package even if there’s no deal with the White House.
“I think we ought to be taking up COVID-19 legislation before we leave here, and I don’t think we ought to wait,” Hoyer said. “People are really hurting.”
The Hill’s Mike Lillis breaks it down here.
The Democratic divides:
- Some lawmakers want a vote on a massive package topping $3 trillion, akin to the HEROES Act, which the House passed in May.
- Others are looking toward something in the range of Pelosi’s last offer of $2.2 trillion.
- But others are standing behind Pelosi’s decision to hold the line and wait for a bipartisan agreement that can win President Trump’s signature.
What they’re saying:
- “It’s kind of all over the map,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), a leading figure in the New Democrat Coalition.
- Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) said the angst is only growing with each day that passes without a deal. “Yes, yes, yes,” she said when asked if the House should vote on some form of stimulus. “Members feel very strongly.”
- “I’m just holding out for a deal. My district looks grimmer and grimmer, so I’m just praying for a deal and I’m just not willing to hypothesize what it’s like to go home without a deal,” said Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.), a Pelosi ally.
- “Their basic disrespect over human life is going to make it difficult to come to the table. They feel no sense of urgency over the loss of life and that alone makes this extraordinarily difficult,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), referring to Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
Where things stand: Both Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that they’re ready to restart negotiations over another relief bill — a small but necessary first step.
- “I’ve probably spoken to Speaker Pelosi 15 or 20 times in the last few days on the CR,” Mnuchin told the Senate Banking Committee, referring to a continuing resolution to extend government funding, “and we’ve agreed to continue to have discussions about the CARES Act.”
- Pelosi also said Thursday that she expected negotiations with the White House to resume shortly and asked Democratic committee chiefs to craft another offer to get the ball rolling.
Even so, there are plenty of obstacles standing in the way of another deal. Partisan tensions are escalating with Election Day just six weeks away. The battle over the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has also poisoned the well of bipartisanship and will suck up precious floor time and political oxygen in the Senate.
LEADING THE DAY
Initial jobless claims increase to 870,000: The number of new jobless claims for the week ending Sept. 19 increased to a seasonally adjusted 870,000, a small increase of 4,000 from the previous week. But unadjusted claims spiked by 28,527, or 3.6 percent, reaching 824,542.
“This is heartbreaking, both taking a broad view and also at the personal level for the more than 800,000 individuals who filed through traditional state programs, as well as the more than 600,000 who filed under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economist at Bankrate.com.
“This means about 1.5 million new claims were seen in the latest week under these programs,” he added.
The Hill’s Niv Elis breaks it down here.
Senate to push funding bill vote up against shutdown deadline: Senators are poised to punt passage of a must-pass stopgap government funding bill into next week, up against the Wednesday deadline to prevent a shutdown.
The Senate is scheduled to take a procedural vote related to the continuing resolution (CR) on Thursday, but then leave town for the weekend. GOP senators say passage of the funding bill, which would keep the government open through Dec. 11, would take place either on Tuesday evening or Wednesday.
The risk: Democrats are mulling their procedural options, arguing that the Senate should not have “business as usual” if Republicans are going to confirm a Supreme Court nominee for President Trump after refusing to give Merrick Garland, former President Obama’s final Supreme Court nominee, a vote in 2016.
The Hill’s Jordain Carney tells us more here.
GOOD TO KNOW
- A victory for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, a Democratic takeover of the Senate and defense of the party’s House majority in the November elections would be the best outcome for the U.S. economy, according to an analysis released Wednesday by Moody’s Analytics.
- The work-from-home reality that COVID-19 has imposed on many workers around the country could have lasting effects on offices, cities and large swaths of the economy even after the pandemic is in the rearview mirror.
- Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Thursday urged the Treasury Department watchdog to investigate the IRS criminal investigation division’s use, without a court order, of a commercial database containing location data from Americans’ cellphones.
- The economy lost out on $16 trillion in the last 20 years as a result of racial inequality, according to a report from Citi.
- A major trade group representing credit unions launched a multimillion-dollar spending campaign on Thursday in support of congressional candidates on both sides of the aisle.
ODDS AND ENDS
- A district court judge on Thursday said that the Trump administration must either delay a ban on TikTok from American app stores or file legal papers defending the move by Friday afternoon.
- Advocates for the food, beverage and household products industry are pushing for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to give their workers priority access to a COVID-19 vaccine after health care workers and first responders.