Senate – The Senate returns to session this week and will take a standalone vote tomorrow on an amendment providing additional COVID-19 relief funding specifically for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and second draw loans. Absent a larger agreement, this effort is meant to highlight Republican openness to targeted relief measures. Democratic leaders continue to withhold their support for legislation that fails to meet their demands.
On Wednesday, the Senate will vote to proceed to stimulus legislation that would provide more than $500 billion in COVID-19 relief. This includes liability protections, more federally expanded unemployment benefits, funding for PPP, schools, testing, tracing, vaccine development, and vaccine distribution. Essentially, it will be the same legislation Democrats blocked last month – and thus the same outcome is expected this week. Senate Republicans remain committed to restrained federal sending, in contrast to what is being discussed between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Following consideration of COVID-19 response measures, the Senate will turn to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to approve Judge Barrett’s nomination on Thursday and the full Senate will begin consideration of her nomination on Friday. It is possible that cloture will be filed on Friday. There is then a 30-hour post-cloture period prior to a confirmation vote, which could take place as soon as Monday evening. Other nominations and procedural votes are also possible this week.
House – Speaker Pelosi has established tomorrow as a deadline for the Administration to reach a negotiated agreement on a COVID-19 relief package before the election. Many issues remain unresolved and it’s expected that negotiations will have to be restarted after the elections. If a deal were to come together, the White House would still have to lobby for significant support from House and Senate Republicans. Right now, House leaders are largely focused on politics – fundraising and campaigning for individual House races.
White House – This week’s major focus will be on Thursday’s presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee. The final debate is expected to focus on COVID-19, family issues, racial justice, climate policy, national security, and leadership.