Stimulus Deal Is Looking More Like Mid-September — At The Very Earliest

( It’s growing more and more likely that negotiations for another coronavirus economic stimulus package won’t progress much at all until mid-September at the earliest.

While the full Congress isn’t on recess just yet, many senators and representatives have already bolted Washington, D.C., for their normal summer breaks. The House even extended its normal break. Members won’t be required to return to Washington until September 14, one week later than originally planned.

In the meantime, as members of Congress are in their home states, much of the focus of the country will shift to the Republican and Democratic conventions, even as those two events will be dramatically scaled back from previous iterations. The next jobs report also won’t be released until early in September, so some legislators might want to wait to see what the results are.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked on Wednesday whether she felt negotiations would be dead until the recess was over. Her reply:

“I hope not, no. People will die.”

Still, there are plenty of members of Congress who are skeptical, at best, about whether a deal can be reached in the next month. Arkansas Senator John Boozman, a Republican, said:

“I’m concerned we’re not getting a deal right now.” He said negotiators from the GOP wanted to get an agreement done, but “you’ve got to have a willing partner.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this week that he thought it was time to get back to the negotiating table and not waste any more time. He told Fox News:

“It doesn’t make any difference who says let’s get together again, but we ought to get together again.”

According to sources, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke to Pelosi via phone Wednesday, but that conversation apparently went nowhere.

In a joint statement, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Mnuchin and White House officials of “not budging.”

“We have again made clear to the Administration that we are willing to resume negotiations once they start to take this process seriously,” their statement read. “The lives and livelihoods of the American people as well as the life of our democracy are at stake.”

In a statement of his own, Mnuchin said this week: “Democrats have no interest in negotiating.”

With the sides so far apart on the basics of the deal, and with mudslinging happening on both sides, it appears that the American people won’t be getting any relief any time soon.

Democrats “dropped” their top-line price tag to $2 trillion, but Republicans have said they want the final number to be much closer to $1 trillion. Mnuchin has accused Pelosi and Schumer of refusing to negotiate unless he and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows agree in advance to a price tag that they want.

“If the Democrats are willing to be reasonable, there’s a compromise,” Mnuchin said. “If the Democrats are focused on politics and don’t want to do anything that’s going to succeed for the president, there won’t be a deal.”