Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The two most powerful people in Congress — at least for the next two months — renewed their calls for coronavirus stimulus on Friday.
A relief deal could prove just as difficult to reach as it did before Election Day.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., again called for a targeted aid package. In Kentucky, he argued a better than expected October jobs report that saw the U.S. unemployment rate fall to 6.9% reduces the need for a sweeping stimulus bill.
“I think it reinforces the argument that I’ve been making for the last few months, that something smaller – rather than throwing another $3 trillion at this issue – is more appropriate,” he told reporters, according to Reuters. McConnell noted that he will not necessarily lead the Senate in January: NBC News projects both Republicans and Democrats will hold at least 48 seats, with four races unsettled.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for Republicans to restart aid talks that fell apart before the 2020 election. She told reporters that the “imperative to act could not be greater” after the U.S. posted a record of more than 120,000 new Covid-19 infections on Thursday.
Still, she said a narrow bill “doesn’t appeal to me at all.” The chambers of Congress failed to find common ground on relief before the election, as Senate Republicans tried to pass a $500 billion aid bill and House Democrats approved a $2.2 trillion package.
Areas of disagreement between the parties included state and local government aid, enhanced unemployment insurance and liability protections for businesses.
Democrats will keep control of the House next Congress, though they will likely lose seats, according to NBC News. Pelosi is expected to serve as speaker for at least one more term.
McConnell said earlier this week that he hopes to pass more relief money before the end of the year. How the results of the presidential election will shape President Donald Trump’s desire to approve a bill during the lame duck session remains to be seen.
Though key unresolved states are too close to call in the presidential election, Democrat Joe Biden narrowly leads Trump in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada, according to NBC News. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., appeared with Pelosi on Friday and suggested a Biden presidency would give Democrats more leverage in aid talks.
Economists and policymakers, including Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, have warned the economic recovery could lose steam if Congress does not pass more fiscal stimulus. Policies buoying those still unemployed, including supplemental jobless benefits and a federal moratorium on evictions, expired earlier this year.
Suspension of federal student loan interest will expire at the end of the year.