Less Than 48 Hours Left to Settle Stimulus Negotiations

An hourglass filled with blue sand sitting on top of a calendar page on a wooden desk.

Image source: Getty Images

On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear: The parties must reach an agreement within 48 hours if they want a new coronavirus relief bill to pass before election day.

In coming up with the 48-hour timeframe, Pelosi calculated how long it takes for the legislative process to play out in the House and Senate. As she sees it (and as history suggests), there is no realistic way to get a bill through both legislative chambers by Nov. 3 if negotiations drag on beyond Tuesday, Oct. 20.

Dueling announcements

One day earlier, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made his own announcement. According to the Kentucky Republican, he plans to call for a vote on Tuesday, asking Congress to pass a stand-alone Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses. On Wednesday, he plans to call for another vote on the $500 billion stimulus bill blocked by Democrats last month. According to congressional Democrats, the bill does too much to protect businesses from lawsuits, and too little to protect everyday Americans from food lines and bankruptcy.

Given that McConnell knows both bills are sure to die in chamber, some progressive pundits wonder aloud if he is laying the foundation to blame Democrats for the holdup of another relief package.

Negotiations hit a snag

In the meantime, Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continue to negotiate details of a new stimulus package, including the Democrats' desire to create a national plan for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. According to Dems, the lack of adequate testing and tracing makes it even more difficult to rein in a virus that has killed 215,000 Americans and is expected to get worse before it gets better.

After an apparent agreement on testing and contract tracing last week, Pelosi reported that the Trump administration took out "55% of the language" outlining the details of testing and tracing. The White House rewrote portions of the bill, effectively making contract tracing a suggestion rather than an order. For example, they changed the word "shall" to "may," "requirement" to "recommendation," and "strategic plan" to "strategy." In addition, according to Pelosi, the White House changes made money earmarked for testing and contract tracing "a slush fund for the administration which 'may' grant or withhold" the funds.

Everyday Americans pay the price

While Pelosi claims to be optimistic that an agreement can be reached by Tuesday, millions of Americans with dwindling bank accounts are living without enhanced unemployment benefits, millions more are living without health insurance, and eight million more Americans are in poverty than before COVID-19 began its spread across the globe.

Complicating the matter, it is unclear whether either side is truly interested in getting help to the American public before the Nov. 3 election. Democrats don't want it to appear as though President Donald Trump played a role in passing legislation, and Republicans don't want the American public to believe it was the Democrats who offered them a life raft.

What is clear is that there will be no stimulus relief by election day if there is no agreement by Tuesday, and it is the American public who will ultimately suffer.

Our credit card expert uses this card, and it could earn you $1,148 (seriously)

As long as you pay them off each month, credit cards are a no-brainer for savvy Americans. They protect against fraud far better than debit cards, help raise your credit score, and can put hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars in rewards back in your pocket each year.

But with so many cards out there, you need to choose wisely. This top-rated card offers the ability to pay 0% interest on purchases until late 2021, has some of the most generous cash back rewards we’ve ever seen (up to 5%!), and somehow still sports a $0 annual fee.

That’s why our expert – who has reviewed hundreds of cards – signed up for this one personally. Click here to get free access to our expert’s top pick.

The Motley Fool owns and recommends MasterCard and Visa, and recommends American Express. We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Latest Markets Videos

    The Motley Fool

    Founded in 1993 in Alexandria, VA., by brothers David and Tom Gardner, The Motley Fool is a multimedia financial-services company dedicated to building the world's greatest investment community. Reaching millions of people each month through its website, books, newspaper column, radio show, television appearances, and subscription newsletter services, The Motley Fool champions shareholder values and advocates tirelessly for the individual investor. The company's name was taken from Shakespeare, whose wise fools both instructed and amused, and could speak the truth to the king -- without getting their heads lopped off.

    Learn More