Senate – Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was able to unite his conference on a new COVID-19 relief package. This gives backing to vulnerable 2020 Senate Republicans and puts the focus back on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to develop a response.
Unless there are breakthroughs on talks between the Speaker and the White House, Senate Republicans will turn to funding the government and confirming judicial nominees. The length of the expected continuing resolution (CR) remains the most pressing issue for congressional leadership and the Trump Administration.
Leader McConnell supports a CR to fund the government into December, which would allow the Trump Administration a seat at the negotiation table for a potential omnibus bill, regardless of the election outcome. Some Congressional Democrats are pushing for the CR to last until next year, with the hopes of a Biden Administration being in place at that time.
There is no agreement yet on so-called spending “anomalies” to attach to the CR, but some members are still expected to try and use the CR as an opportunity to pass legislative priorities or extensions of laws that might have broad consensus and support.
House – At this point, there have not been any serious discussions about another COVID-19 relief package in the House. While it’s been reported that some moderate members feel it is necessary, this group is not large enough to push leadership back to the negotiating table. Regarding a CR, it appears to be on track as there is no desire for a shutdown right now. But, similar to the Senate, there are still likely to be anomalies, extenders, and “noncontroversial” items attached.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) plans on rolling out a policy agenda to his conference tomorrow morning. Below are the core objectives of the agenda. You can find Leader McCarthy’s memo regarding this plan here.
- “Restore Our Way of Life by defeating the virus and keeping America healthy; ensuring the safety and security of all communities; and preserving our freedoms under the Constitution;
- Rebuild the Greatest Economy in History by getting America working and adding 10 million new good-paying jobs; ending our dependence on China and enhancing our economic security and upgrading America’s critical infrastructure;
- Renew the American Dream by making sure that every child in every neighborhood can attend an excellent school; honoring our veterans’ service to America and hiring our heroes; and supporting our citizens’ success, now and in the future.”
Also, the House China Task Force, which has been working with the administration on a final brief regarding China’s handling of COVID-19, is looking to release a full report on October 1. Leader McCarthy’s policy agenda will likely propose that the task force’s recommendations be implemented. We should note that McCarthy and the task force are regularly communicating ideas on China with the White House.
White House – The Administration continues to explore the potential for additional executive actions in response to COVID-19 should Congress fail to pass another relief package.