Passing another stimulus package remains wishful thinking in Washington.
The House of Representatives convened on Saturday for a rare weekend vote on its proposal to provide $25 billion in new funding for the United States Postal Service (USPS). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the bill will “absolutely not pass” in the Senate.
Statements from both parties on Sunday make it clear: They’re still world’s apart on the next stimulus package, and it’s unclear when—or if—they will come to an agreement.
House Voted on USPS Bill Over the Weekend, GOP Says Bill “Dead” In Senate
The USPS funding vote could have been an olive branch to end a stalemate between the House and Senate over the next stimulus bill. But it appears to have split Republicans and Democrats even further apart.
The USPS funding bill passed 257-150 in the House, with 26 Republicans voting for the funding. However, McConnell fired back at Democrats and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shortly after their vote with a strong statement posted on his Twitter account.
“Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have spent weeks ignoring the urgent needs of American workers and families, but they rushed back to Washington the instant that overblown conspiracy theories about the United States Postal Service convinced them their own jobs might be in jeopardy,” McConnell tweeted.
The USPS has been in dire financial straits in recent years. The recent appointment of Louis DeJoy as postmaster general—who has donated to President Donald Trump’s campaign and oversees fundraising for the GOP convention— stirred worries from Democrats that his new cost-cutting initiatives could threaten the integrity of the next election due to mail delays.
DeJoy testified before a Senate committee last week and has vowed to end any cost-cutting initiatives until after the election. He testified before a House committee on Monday morning.
Is This the End of Stimulus Talks?
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows echoed McConnell’s sentiment about the House’s USPS bill in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
“When you look at the bill that was passed (Saturday), that bill was not a serious bill. It’s $25 billion. It doesn’t do anything to sustain the postal system long term,” Meadows said. “It’s going nowhere. Why did they come back on a Saturday and only deal with postal? Why did they not deal with enhanced unemployment? Why did they not extend the PPP program that actually helps small businesses?”
Though Meadows was critical of Democrats for not including broader legislation in their vote on Saturday—even though it passed its $3 trillion HEROES Act in May—he added that the White House is still open to discussions and wants to sign a deal.
“If we agree on five or six things, let’s go ahead and pass those,” Meadows said. “I spoke to the president early this morning. He’s willing to sign that, including Postal Service reform and making sure that the money is there to make sure that deliveries of first class mail are handled quickly, efficiently and on time.”
Meadows added that he planned to call Pelosi on Sunday, and that he met with Democrats on Capitol Hill over the weekend. It’s unclear if a phone call took place.
“We all want the negotiations to continue, but not just what the administration wants, but what the country needs,” Pelosi said on CNN on Sunday. “Today marks the 100th day since we passed the HEROES Act.” She added that the Trump administration’s reluctance to move forward with another stimulus package has contributed to the current coronavirus infection and death rate in the country.
The Senate has no plans to vote on the House’s USPS funding bill or come back to D.C. before the end of its current recess, which is in effect until after Labor Day.