IF YOU WERE COUNTING ON WASHINGTON to come together quickly and without drama to combat the coronavirus, you haven’t been reading Playbook, and you’ve probably been ignoring reality.
THE SENATE failed to clear a key procedural hurdle tonight on the massive $1.6-trillion coronavirus package, a major blow to the government’s efforts to immediately inject money into the economy during this global health crisis.
SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER (N.Y.) held the entire Democratic caucus against the measure after two days of marathon negotiations. The motion failed, 47-47.
REPUBLICANS are calling the Democrats’ efforts irresponsible — they blamed Speaker NANCY PELOSI. Democrats say Senate Majority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL (R-Ky.) didn’t accede to their demands.
THE MAIN ISSUE , according to Democrats, is a $500-billion “slush fund” that is aimed at helping companies that have suffered due to the economic slowdown . Democrats say it has little oversight and does not help workers. They also say Treasury Secretary STEVE MNUCHIN would have too much influence over the disbursement of the money with insufficient oversight.
THE TWO SIDES are still in negotiations over the bill, and McConnell and Schumer say they could yet reach a deal tonight.
DEMOCRATS — SCHUMER and PELOSI — believe they now have tremendous leverage to change the package. Negotiations will continue, of course. But if they don’t make discernable progress before the U.S. stock exchange opens tomorrow, they could be in for a very tumultuous day. Treasury Secretary STEVEN MNUCHIN was the first person to throw out Monday as the deadline for this package’s passage.
BUT SUNDAY’S VOTE was a blow to McConnell, who had wanted to have final passage on the legislation on Monday. That timetable is in serious jeopardy at this point.
MORNING MONEY SNEAK PEAK via BEN WHITE — THE NO DEAL SCENARIO: “Markets are likely to drop sharply at the opening bell given the broad assumption among Wall Street traders that D.C. would swiftly pass a massive stimulus package to immediately pump money into an economy that is largely shuttered and could soon suffer millions of job losses and a second quarter that could see growth contract by more than 10 percent.”
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL was about as angry as he ever is – at least publicly – from the floor after the motion was defeated: “The American people are watching this spectacle. I’m told the futures market is down 5%. I’m also told that’s when trading stops. So the notion that we have time to play games here with the American economy and American people is utterly absurd. …
“WE’LL HAVE THIS CLOTURE VOTE AGAIN … and hopefully some adults will show up on the other side of the room.”
CHOOSE YOUR NEWS: MCCONNELL seemed especially irate at PELOSI, and said she’s the speaker of the House, not the Senate — suggesting she scuttled the negotiations late in the process. BUT: SCHUMER and PELOSI called for direct negotiations between congressional leaders early on, and MCCONNELL resisted.
SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER, shortly after MCCONNELL: “The legislation has many problems. At the top of the list it includes a large corporate bailout, with no protections for workers and virtually no oversight.”
— SCHUMER also said he wants to further expand the unemployment insurance provisions, and wants more money for hospitals and state and local governments.
HOW TRUE: CNN’S @Phil_Mattingly: “As my esteemed pal @APAndrewTaylor says often, when it comes to reaching a deal, ‘dusk is good. Dark is better.’ Gonna be a late night folks.”
Good Sunday evening — hope you and yours are staying healthy, and indoors. A BIG THANK YOU to JOHN BRESNAHAN and the entire POLITICO Capitol Hill team for their help putting together this special edition.
FRIENDLY REMINDER: ANNA and JAKE will be doing another virtual briefing tomorrow at 9 a.m. to talk about everything going on with Washington’s response to the coronavirus. Register
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, speaking from the White House briefing room, on the failure of the cloture vote: “Everybody wants to get there. We’ll see what happens… To me it’s not very complicated. We have to help the worker. We have to save the companies.”
— ON REMOTE VOTING: TRUMP said he had been thinking a lot about remote voting today. While he acknowledged there may be constitutional issues on voting from a separate location, Trump said “I would be totally in favor of it on a short term basis.” McConnell has resisted this, as has Pelosi, for the most part. House Dems have said they will look into it, though.
THE SENATE is going to have attendance issues going forward. Sens. RAND PAUL (R-Ky.) has COVID-19. Both MIKE LEE (R-Utah) and MITT ROMNEY (R-Utah) are self-quarantining after coming into close proximity to Paul, and aren’t voting. SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-Fla.) and CORY GARDNER (R-Colo.) are already under self-quarantine — although they could be back in the Senate this week.
— THE SENATE on Sunday was 48 Republicans, 47 Democrats. Leadership expects additional quarantines in the next day or so. Republicans could lose their majority at this rate.
— CNN’S @kristin__wilson: “Sen. Lindsey Graham, not happy with Rand Paul: ‘I don’t know when he got tested but the point is…everybody in the Senate needs to know exactly when he was tested and what did he do so we can figure out how much exposure we had.’”
PAUL VISITED the Senate gym and pool this morning, after being tested and before he was confirmed to have the virus.
HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN, YOU WONDER? CONGRESS POLICES ITSELF. Why was the gym open? Why is the Senate in session and lawmakers continue to meet in groups — against all guidelines from health experts?
EYES ON ATTENDING PHYSICIAN BRIAN MONAHAN … WAPO’S @PKCAPITOL: “As he left Senate GOP lunch, Roy Blunt said they’d not received any update on how to proceed: ‘We are going to need a little better medical advice on this than we have right now … I think we need more information before we can comment knowledgeably.’”
THIS WILL ONLY PUT MORE PRESSURE ON THE HOUSE not to return to vote in person. But, as we told you, this is an issue — there is some resistance to remote voting.
NEW REPORTING: THE HOUSE will need to clear whatever comes out of the Senate, and the leadership of both parties wants to do so by unanimous consent. BUT: House Republicans have encountered some resistance from lawmakers who do not want to allow the House to rubber stamp the Senate’s bill, and would prefer a vote of some sort. ONE LAWMAKER can mess this up. GOP LEADERSHIP believes they can soften the opposition.
WHAT TRUMP SAID AT HIS PRESSER … PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP held a press conference Sunday evening and announced that the National Guard has been activated in New York, Washington and California. He said that FEMA would fund “100 percent” of the costs to activate the guard. Further, he said that medical supplies are headed to the three states that are in critical need.
— COMPASSIONATE COMMANDER IN CHIEF? — The president, who has struggled to show empathy throughout his tenure in times of crisis, said a few words to Americans who are “feeling alone and isolated.” Trump said: “I want you to know we are all joined together as one people” and spoke about the nation’s shared spirit and patriotism. “You have a leader who will always fight for you and I will not stop until we win,” Trump said.
— WHEN ASKED if he had interest in talking with his predecessors, Trump praised his team and said “I don’t want to disturb them, bother them” and that he didn’t think he would learn much from former presidents. Trump said if he thought it would save one life, he would make the call.
— FEMA ADMINISTRATOR PETER GAYNOR said that the USNS Mercy will head to Los Angeles and should be in place within the week. He noted that California is projected to have needs five times greater than Washington State. The ship will not be used for treating COVID-19 cases, Gaynor said.
— VP MIKE PENCE said that all commercial labs are going to be directed by HHS at the behest of the White House and the Coronavirus Task Force to have people who have checked into a hospital to receive testing for the virus more quickly. Also, Pence said that the backlog of COVID-19 testing should be caught up by the middle of the week.
IN THE STATES … LOUISIANA Gov. JOHN BEL EDWARDS has issued a “stay at home” order. … TEXAS Gov. GREG ABBOTT opted against a state-wide announcement, leaving it up to local officials.
AND ABROAD: “Merkel goes into quarantine after doctor tests positive for coronavirus,” POLITICO Europe’s Emma Anderson: “German Chancellor Angela Merkel will go into self-quarantine at home after a doctor who gave her a vaccination tested positive for the coronavirus. A government spokesperson said Sunday the doctor had given the chancellor a ‘prophylactic pneumococcus vaccine’ on Friday afternoon.” POLITICO