Democrats sent a secret new COVID-19 stimulus proposal to Mitch McConnell as congressional leaders struggled to agree on a plan, report says

Image
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are negotiating the terms of new federal coronavirus relief with Republicans and the White House. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • The senior Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer approached Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday night with a secretive proposal for federal coronavirus relief,The Washington Post reported.
  • Lawmakers on Tuesday separately unveiled a bipartisan $US908 billion proposal, which increased the amount Republicans were willing to spend but remained far from Democrats’ goal.
  • There are no details on the specifics of Pelosi and Schumer’s proposal, which Schumer has described as “private.”
  • Congress has only a few weeks to finalise any stimulus plans – and also has to deal with a looming government shutdown.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Democrats approached the GOP at the beginning of the week with a secretive new proposal for federal coronavirus relief, The Washington Post reported.

The offer was brought by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the paper reported.

There are no details on what the offer — referred to by Schumer as a “private proposal” — contained.

It adds an extra strand of complexity to the high-pressure stimulus negotiations on Capitol Hill, which lawmakers hope will end a months-long deadlock and bring economic relief to Americans hammered by the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The additional proposal means there are now four major ones in play:

  • The Democrats’ preferred plan, which would cost more than $US2 trillion.
  • The GOP’s preferred plan, which is far smaller at about $US500 billion.
  • A bipartisan plan suggested Tuesday, with a price of $US908 billion.
  • The “private proposal,” for which no details are public.

Business Insider has requested more detail from Pelosi and Schumer. The Post cited Schumer saying the proposal was meant to “help us move the ball forward,” suggesting that it might cede some ground to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

It had also been sent to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Pelosi said in a press statement circulated Tuesday that appeared to refer to the same proposal.

The plan’s arrival Monday appeared not to move McConnell in public. On Tuesday, McConnell circulated a plan that barely shifted from the Republicans’ original proposal, which has failed to pass twice this fall.

McConnell signalled on Monday that a bill could be agreed to before the end of December.

But that would be a tall order — the Senate is sitting for only a few weeks, and it separately has to act to keep a government shutdown from starting December 11.

McConnell’s latest proposal, which offers no federal unemployment benefits, fell flat with Democratic members.

The Democratic Party has publicly pushed for a $US2.2 trillion relief plan including $US1,200 direct payments to Americans. By contrast, the Republicans favour a bill of about a quarter of the cost, per CNBC.

The bipartisan $US908 billion proposal also did not include $US1,200 payments.

The situation has caused accusations of partisan stalling from both sides.

“The additional relief that would help families, workers, schools, and small businesses cross the finish line has been held up for months while Democratic leaders pursued an all-or-nothing approach,” McConnell said in a statement Tuesday.