Stimulus Negotiations Stalled as Supreme Court Confirmation Moves Forward

Negotiations on an economic stimulus bill remain at an impasse a week before the November U.S. presidential election, with both sides blaming the other for the lack of agreement. While saying in television interviews over the weekend that “I never give up hope,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s comments made clear that Congress is still not close to agreement on a variety of issues. “They keep moving the goalposts. Every time they say we move the goalposts, that means they’re projecting what they did,” Pelosi went on to say. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows made a similar accusation in an earlier interview.

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has publicly stated that he would bring any agreement to the Senate floor for a vote, he has not committed to doing so before the election and has privately advised the White House that many Republican senators remained opposed to the size of the proposals.

The Senate did move forward on President Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court. She joins the court as the sixth Republican-appointed justice, replacing the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  On issues affecting regulatory policy, Justice Barrett is expected to take a more pro-business approach than her predecessor on the court. 

For example, regarding the Waters of the U.S. Rule – the regulation that defines the scope of federal agencies’ jurisdiction over the nation’s waters – Justice Barrett drew praise from Republican senators. They pointed to a 2018 case she helped decide, which instructed regulators to revisit their finding that a plot of land in Illinois fell under federal protections. However, during her recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Justice Barrett did not commit to backing Justice Scalia’s interpretation of WOTUS, which underpins much of the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule.