That’s at least a possibility, thanks to a House adjournment and Nancy Pelosi’s less-than-full embrace of the Schumer-McConnell-Mnuchin agreement this morning. The House stayed in session this morning for only two minutes, and won’t return until tomorrow at 11 am. Politico’s Jake Sherman spells out what that means:
To be abundantly, 100% clear: This means the House is not likely to vote on the Senate’s coronavirus bill today. https://t.co/nl71PF1jLn
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) March 25, 2020
That might not be as big of a problem as it first seems. NBC’s Alex Moe explains that the House may not even get the bill until early tomorrow, thanks to all of the procedural hurdles that the Senate has yet to clear in order to pass the bill:
However, a Democratic leadership aide points out there is emergency convening authority but it is more likely that House consideration would be tomorrow since there’s no clear Senate timetable for them getting the House the paper today.
— Alex Moe (@AlexNBCNews) March 25, 2020
How tough would it have been to schedule a session for this evening, though? Perhaps they would have had to adjourn it without a bill anyway, but Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell could have given her a target time to be ready for processing the bill. With the markets and voters on edge, taking a day off now sends a bad signal even if it’s largely meaningless.
Or is it? This report from Roll Call looks much more ominous:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that a massive stimulus agreement reached by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and key members of the Trump administration shows improvement over a GOP proposal released late last week. But she didn’t give a clear sign of approval or commit to a House vote.
“House Democrats will now review the final provisions and legislative text of the agreement to determine a course of action,” she said in a statement.
Pelosi said the agreement could take negotiators “a long way down the road in meeting the needs of the American people.”
“Thanks to the unity and insistence of Senate and House Democrats, the bill has moved a great deal closer to America’s workers,” the California Democrat said in a statement.
Note that lack of commitment to putting the bill up for a vote. Pelosi blew up the negotiations over the weekend by demanding consideration of her own pork-riddled $2.5 trillion plan. That was seen as perhaps a negotiating ploy to get Chuck Schumer more leverage — and it appears to have worked. Schumer went on CNN this morning to claim victory for Democrats with this agreement, and pledged that aid would immediately get to Americans because of their skillful negotiations to improve the CARES Act.
Now, Pelosi seems to be signaling that she won’t abide by Schumer’s agreement on the package. Not only will that slow down or stop the relief altogether, it leaves Republicans with no legitimate negotiating partners at all. Why did they bother to discuss the bill with Schumer in the first place if Pelosi wasn’t going to abide by the agreement? Basically, she is threatening to cut off any credibility Schumer has in future negotiations, and making him look like a fool on national television to boot.
Pelosi can’t be that foolish. Right? Right?