DC Tax Flash: Senate to Vote This Week on Virus Relief, Pelosi Says Pre-election Negotiations Nearing End

Tax Alert
10.19.2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is planning to stage two votes this week on virus relief legislation, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) set a Tuesday deadline for finding a pre-election agreement with the administration on a broader virus relief bill. Despite some optimistic words from congressional leaders, both efforts appear likely to fail.

The Speaker and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin spoke this weekend and are expected to talk by phone again this afternoon on a broad virus relief package. "I am optimistic that we can reach agreement before the election," the Speaker said in a note to colleagues yesterday. "To that end, we are writing language as we negotiate the priorities, so that we are fully prepared to move forward once we reach agreement." Even still, big differences remain. Secretary Mnuchin has offered a $1.88 trillion proposal, while House Democrats support the $2.2 trillion HEROES Act that passed the House earlier this month. 

If the Speaker and Secretary Mnuchin were to reach an agreement on a package in the range of nearly $2 trillion, it would likely trigger fatal opposition from GOP Senators, Leader McConnell has cautioned. The president has dismissed such warnings, predicting that Senate Republicans will fall in line if the administration clinches a deal with House Democrats.

In the Senate tomorrow, Leader McConnell plans to hold the first of two procedural votes on separate virus relief packages. Sixty votes would be needed in each case to advance the bills. The first would reauthorize, revise, and recapitalize the Paycheck Protection Program with $257.64 billion in new funding. A one-page summary of the Senate PPP bill is posted here. A section-by-section summary is posted here.

Sen. McConnell said the Senate will also vote Wednesday on a bill to provide about $500 billion in additional funding for education, unemployment benefits, and vaccine efforts. This broader relief package largely mirrors the Senate GOP proposal that ran aground on a partisan vote last month. A summary of that bill is posted here. A summary of the technical changes made to the bill since last month is posted here.

Without Democratic support, Senate Republicans can, at best, muster 53 votes for both bills. 

Speaker Pelosi's update on the status of negotiations with the administration is posted here.


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